BY KAREN JO SHAPIRO
With apologies to Rudyard Kipling ("If")
If you can't wait to pick a book right now
And read it through until the very end
To find out who did what, and why, and how,
Then—lucky you!—you're a READER, my friend!
One of the best parts of being a teacher is meeting new readers each year. This year is no exception. Just a week (or two..I'm not great with time) ago, we finished auditioning student-recommended books (so many recommendations!) for our next read aloud, voted on the favorite, and began our journey into Fablehaven. And what a journey it's been. A mysterious house, a distant grandfather, a missing grandmother, a forbidden wood, and a witch. A very creepy witch with a melodious voice. Who REALLY wants you to come into her ivy covered cabin. (shudder))
We've had some interesting discussions about the book. We've discussed
the difference between Fawns and Satyrs,
and whether Maddox would know Newt Scamander (HP FOREVER).
It's a great book with a cool central idea, about a preserve for magical creatures.
I have the feeling something bad is going to happen soon in Fablehaven.
You made many good recommendations for books to read aloud, And I am working my way through them. Truly. Except I'm reading a book a friend gave me months ago. I'm deep into the early 1800's in South Carolina with the main characters, Miss Sarah and a girl named Handful. (isn't that a great name for a character?) But I try to read a children's literature book as well as personal reading, so I need to add a book to my shelf!
I just finished a book Miss Di lent me, The Girl Who Drank the Moon. I wasn't sure at first that I liked it. The first narrator was the protagonist (writerly term for the bad guy) and I really didn't like his tone. But the speaker quickly switched to the ancient witch, Xan, who has her tremendously tiny dragon Fryan and a swamp monster to keep her company. I. loved. it. I've been done for days and haven't given it back to Ms. DiGirolamo. I'm not ready to let go.
Do you know that feeling? If you're a reader, you do. If you haven't yet, you will. When a writer creates a real, true, feel-like-you-know-her character, it's hard to say good-bye.
I mean, you probably invested a lot of time in that character. Maybe, if you read like the poem above describes it, you read the book straight through, cover to cover, in as little as a week.
Carrying it with you around the house. Reading during commercials. Looking up from a story about winter and being surprised it's summer outside. Getting scolded for reading on the stairs (guilty). Leaving your book on the sink so you can read while you brush your teeth.
The thing is, all that time you spent with your nose in a book, you were living in the mind of the characters. Maybe you slogged all the way through Mordor with Frodo and Samwise, or went sailing on the Dawn Treader with Reepicheep and Prince Caspian. You could have spent months defeating Voldemort (again) with Harry and Ron and Hermione. So,what, you're just going to put them down and pick up a brand new character the next day? I don't think so...
Maybe you have to, but you will still find your mind drifting back to Hogwarts or Mordor or Narnia. Or in my case, in a house carved into a giant tree in the middle of a forest in the middle of a great bog. With an old and a young witch, and a swamp monster, and a pocket-sized dragon. Bringing hope to the world.
Luckily, when we say good-bye to literary friends, we know we can pick that book back up any time and visit that friend, and their world, all over again.
I'll return The Girl Who Drank the Moon tomorrow.
And then I'll get back to the Wish Tree. There's room on my shelf. And a tree will be a change from witches!
Happy Reading, friends.