Monday, September 26, 2011

School of Fear

Title: School of Fear     
Author: Gitty Daneshvari 
Publisher: Little and Brown Company 
Publication Date: September 2009 
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel 
Summary: Four quirky kids, each with their own particular phobia, find themselves at Ms. Wellington's School of Fear one summer, hoping to overcome their fears. The kids are skeptical of her methods when their summer takes an unexpected turn of events and they end up on a wild adventure.
What I Think: This book reminded me a lot of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because of all the different characters and their extreme fears. Because of their phobias, these kids are a bit eccentric. I love them maybe more because of their eccentricities. Either way, as I was reading about each character, I kept thinking back to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the cooky characters who tour the factory with Charlie. It's a great how the author does make these characters as intensely phobic as they are but still likable at the same time.
This book also reminded me of The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. I think this will make a great read aloud.
The description in this book is great - there are definitely $100 words all over the place and who doesn't love $100 words? Also, I think Daneshvari does a great job with characterization. She's an expert at dialogue and at a using dialogue to bring out character's attitudes. Sometimes I feel like dialogue, and the idea of dialogue as a literary element that an author employs, is hard to explain to kids. I love how this book has so many different characters who are all unique and hysterical and endearing at the same time.
Read Together: 4 - 8 
Read Alone: 4 - 8 
Read With: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, We Are Not Eaten By Yaks By C. Alexander London
Snatch of Text:  
"A bell is not a bell. While undeniably constructed out of metal and heralded for its ability to ring, it is actually a great deal more than that. It's the taste of barbeque, the feel of sunburned skin from playing outside all day, and the smell of chlorine from freshly cleaned pools. It's the promise of football games, sleepovers, and video-game tournaments, all without the interruption of homework. In short, the bell is the gatekeeper of summer." p. 1

"'What do you mean Grandma's dead? How could you let this happen?' Theodore Bartholomew howled in the kitchen of his family's messy Manhattan apartment. The stout boy with alabaster skin, dark brown hair, and milk chocolate eyes framed by glasses stared at his mother in shock.
'Grandma was old, that's what happens. Old people eventually die,' Theo's mother, Mrs. Daphne Bartholomew, explained compassionately, placing her hand on top of Theo's.
'But you're old. Look at all those wrinkles. You'll be dead soon too!'
'I'm not that old.'
'All I see are liver spots and wrinkles,' Theo said as he started to hyperventilate. 'I feel faint - quick, get the smelling salts!'" (p. 22-23)
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Identifying Story Elements 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Narrative - Characterization, Dialogue  
Writing Prompts: Reread your story and look specifically at the dialogue you incorporate. How does the dialogue show the reader who the character is? Is you dialogue purposeful and does it help the reader understand what is happening in the story? Does the dialogue really sound like you would expect the character to talk? (Make sure a mom sounds like a mom...and a hyperventilating boy who is deathly afraid of dying sounds like a hyperventilating boy who is deathly afraid of dying. 
Topics Covered:  Fears, Family, Friends, Adversity, Loyalty, Taking Risks 
Translated to Spanish: No


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