Monday, October 25, 2010

The Pirate Cruncher

The Pirate CruncherTitle: The Pirate Cruncher     
Author: Jonny Duddle
Illustrator: Jonny Duddle
Publisher: Templar Books
Publication Date: 2009 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book   
Summary: In this swashbuckling tale, Captain Purplebeard and his crew set off to an unknown island in search of treasure (of course!) but find a (not-so-pleasant) surprise awaiting them!
What I Think: I think the illustrations are awesome in this book...but I have to say, I read it about three times before I really understood the story.  Maybe that was just me being obtuse; when I finally did get it, I loved it.  This book is definitely a book that should be read with a child because it's pretty complex.  I did read it with Peanut, who is only 3, so maybe an older child would catch on, but I didn't at first so it's hard to tell.  I would definitely make sure to read this book and think about the tone you are going to use, it could be kind of spooky!
     If I were to teach this book, I would use it to talk about being greedy with younger kids and about stereotypes with older kids.  I would start by asking students what they know about pirates and characteristics of pirates, helping them brainstorm and making sure being greedy made it to the list.  Then, I would start the book by talking about the letter at the beginning and ask lots of questions about who is writing the letter (you can tell from the tentacle in the illustrations!) and model making inferences for them.  It's so important to the story that the kids realize who is leading the pirates to the island.  After getting to the end of the book I would talk about who did actually lure the pirates to the island and how clever he was.  AND, I would make sure to talk to them about this character's character, it's really not all that nice to deceive them the way he did.
     For middle school and high school students, I think this might lead to a great discussion about people and morals.  Pirates can definitely be used to examine stereotypes, I actually really like this idea because it's not like using jocks or geeks as examples which could make someone feel bad...most high schoolers I know aren't pirates...  Because of the Disney's recent Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy, I would venture to say students would be able to brainstorm stereotypes that define pirates.  Beyond identifying stereotypes, it's interesting to look at how the Pirate Cruncher used those stereotypes to his advantage.  Let's face it, pirates aren't supposed to be examples of upstanding citizens, but do they deserve their fate in this book?  I think students would be able to make some connections with stereotypes and with how people treat other people.  And then what about researching or learning about the history of pirates?  This would be a great introduction. 
Read Together: K - 12 
Read Alone: 4 - 12 
Read With: How I Became a Pirate and Pirates Don't Change Diapers By Melinda Long; The Curse of Snake Island #1  and other books in the Pirate School series; The Pirateology Handbook: A Course in Pirate Hunting (Ologies) by Captain William Lubber/Dugald Steer; Nonfiction about pirates 
Snatch of Text: 
"All was unusually quiet in Port Royal...
but if you listened carefully, on the docks,
down the alleyways,
and in the candlelit taverns,
you could hear the faint sound of a fiddle floating on the wind."  
(These are on the first two-page layout in the book...kind of spooky, huh?)
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Asking Questions, Making Inferences, Author's Purpose
Writing Strategies to Practice: Prepositional Phrases, Tone/Mood, Alliteration  
Writing Prompts: Think about what makes the mood of The Pirate Cruncher spooky, then write your own spooky story including prepositional phrases
Topics Covered: Pirates, Greed, Morals
Translated to Spanish: No

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