Category Archives: chapter books

Free Fridays: The Book of Mistakes

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The Book of Mistakes written and illustrated by Corrina Luyken is a commentary on how mistakes are not always bad and can lead to bigger and better things. In The Book of Mistakes, Luyken uses her “mistakes” to build a world of creativity.

On the very first page, there is a partially drawn head and face with only one eye. When the reader turns the page, the face now has two eyes, but one is significantly bigger than the other. Luyken then goes on to talk about how “making the other eye even bigger was another mistake,” but then fixes that mistake by giving the girl a funky pair of glasses.

With every “mistake” the author creates the girl and makes her better and better until she is a complete being. 

The author tries to create other things as well. She makes a “frog-cat-cow thing” that she turns into a “very nice rock.” A girl climbing a tree has a leg thats too long, but that only means she was meant to be climbing that tree.

Every “mistake” that the author makes, she turns into something even more relevant to the story. The ink splotches at the top of the page make for beautiful leaves blowing in the wind, an ink drop on the girls head becomes a helmet, and pen streaks across a page become strings for balloons. 

By the end of the story, there is an entire scene of supposed mistakes: a treehouse filled with children and balloons.

The scene gradually gets smaller and smaller until you see that is really all part of the girls imagination and that she is the creator of all of it herself.

I think that this is a very important book for parents and educators to be aware of becasue it is fun and colorful, as well as an important message for children. It is a story about mistakes and creativity and that all mistakes can be turned into something even more amazing than originally intended. The illustrations tie perfectly into the story and even carry the story when words don’t. They are simple yet complex in the meanings they hold. Overall, The Book of Mistakes has probably become one of my new favorite picture books and I reccommend that everyone read it when they get a chance.

-Mollie McMullan

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Traditional Thursdays: Sideways Stories from Wayside School

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I have always loved Louis Sachar’s zany book – ever since it first crossed my school desk circa the fourth grade. Seeing the play interpretation at our local children’s theatre in a later field trip was a delight, and reading it years later to my dormmates as a college kid was like revisiting one of my funniest old friends.

What makes this story so timeless? Sachar’s ’78 classic is a crazy kooky and sidewayscoverfun read that brings in the ridiculous and unbelievable and makes it perfectly normal.

A teacher who thinks her students are so cute they must be monkeys?

Ice cream that tastes like your personality, but you can’t taste it?

Dead rats sneaking into school?

A boy who just can’t stop kicking things?

Just a normal day in a school that was accidentally built 30 stories high (without a 19th)!

Sideways Stories is a chapter book that collects 30 stories, each one starring a different member of the Wayside School community. Each chapter is about four pages long, and has a different tone, determined by the character.sidewayspaul

Some are driven by narration, some by action, some by descriptions – something for every type of reader. Paul, for example, engages in intense debate with Leslie’s pigtails over whether or not he should pull them. Sharie, on the other hand, is asleep her entire chapter.

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What I most like about this story is its snappy wit. The children all have their youthful good-natured (and sometimes self-serving) naïveté, but so do the adults. And everyone states the obvious…except the obvious just happens to also be hopelessly silly. I would highly recommend this as a read aloud or a silent chuckle-aloud!

 

By: Julia McCorvey