Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tons to do today but just had to post about the burrowing owl that somehow decided the miniature golf course on a Caribbean cruise ship was a good place to call home. Poor little guy - no way to burrow a home into Astroturf! The endangered 9 " tall owl was captured with a net and set free. What a great current events story to tie in with a discussion about Carl Hiassen's Hoot - a hilarious MS novel about a group of Florida kids trying to save a group of these burrowing owls whose home is scheduled to be the site of a new pancake house. The movie is really cute as well. Even the most reluctant boy reader will enjoy Hoot.

Hiassen has a new adult mystery out called Star Island that reads like Lindsay Lohan's life but is set in South Beach. I've not read it but I am sure there are mature teens who are reading it as the character is a 22 year old pop star with a really "dorky" name - Cherry Pye!

My Children's Lit students are reading Jean Craighead George's The Missing Gator of Gumbo Limbo which is also set in the Florida Everglades. How appropriate since we had a 4 to 5 foot alligator sunning itself on the golf course side of the canal behind our house. Since we are not that far from the Everglades and "all canals eventually feed into it" or so we've been told, this guy must have come through an area that had more water due the rains. There was also a heron so tall that his head almost hit the low branches of cypress tree he was standing under. Bird and gator kept their eye on each other! Then a feisty little duck decided to get in on the "watch the gator game" and even had the audacity to shake his little tail feathers at the gator. All he got was a gator yawn. Lots of new critters to entertain us down here.

I decided this semester to re-introduce some of my older favorites, including the above George title. The numerous titles in her Ecological Mystery series on endangered animals have stayed in print for a long time. Always the sign of a good book and they are great titles to introduce to another generation of young readers.

George has an incredible background in ecological issues and it is very evident in her novels. Most everyone knows about her Julie of the Wolves The updated cover on the newer paperback is very appealing. Many young readers don't know that there are two follow up titles, based on requests from young readers asking George what happened to Julie and her wolves. Julie addresses her return home to discover her father has a pregnant white wife and she fears he has forsaken their culture and Julie helping the wolf pack to relocate. In the final book, Julie's Wolf Pack Julie is not the main character - it is told from the wolves point of view. Readers who like Ann M. Martin's A Dog's Life: The Autobiography of a Stray will also like this older anthropomorphic upper elementary novel. Books with animal narrators are either really good or really hard to stay with if you can't suspend your sense of disbelief. Some kids love them and others won't touch them. I find that interesting as so many of the picture books adored by young and old have "talking animals" like Curious George, Winnie the Pooh, Lyle the Crocodile, etc.