Thursday, December 10, 2009
Lucy Dove written by Janice Del Negro and illustrated by Leonid Gore
I chose this book off the shelf because of the title mostly, which turns out to be a name. Anyway, as odd as it seems for a reason to choose a book, I liked the name. The actual book itself though, I have mixed feelings about. It started off well enough, talking about a superstitious laird. I thought to myself that this was going to be a sort of legend, and it was. The only problem though was that every time the author started to get some lyricism going, the whole thing would fall apart. There were parts that seemed like they were going to rhyme and then the author decided at the last minute that she didn't want a rhyming book after all. This left me feeling unsatisfied after reading most pages. The other thing that I didn't like about it as far as a children's book is concerned is that it included some phrases like, "When wishes were horses and beggars could ride, in stone castle by the sea there lived a rich laird." Now you could certainly use this book in a mini-lesson to introduce something like abstract thought and detail into student writing. However, this is a concept that some college students out there do not understand, so expecting it out of an elementary student seems like a little much. Maybe I am underestimating the depth of the young child's mind, but I know that if someone had asked me in elementary school to discern meaning from that statement I would have drawn a complete blank. I feel that most other students would to, and that is too bad really because, even though it might be meaningless to some, it is beautiful writing. Maybe it is not that I didn't like this book, it is that I feel it should be read as a read aloud so that parts of it could be deconstructed and explained, bigger words could be given definition and explained.
One thing that I did like about this book was that the heroine was a little old woman. This rarely happens in stories. Stereotypically and more often than not in stories the one who saves the day or the one who has enough courage and gumption to do what needs to be done ends up being a man. It isn't that I am sexist against men or anything like that, but I am a fan of the male in a story being the silly one and the woman being the one who gets to stand up and do what needs to be done- even if it is just sewing a pair of supposed "lucky" pants.
This book was recommended for students 8 to 11 and I think that sounds about right. Again though, a read aloud might be the best option here. Also, keep in mind your audience because some of the illustrations are a little creepy.