Saturday, September 22, 2012

The High-Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate

Title: The High-Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate
Author: Scott Nash 
Illustrator: Scott Nash 
Publisher: Candlewick Press 
Publication Date: September 25th, 2012 
Genre/Format: Fantasy/Novel 
Goodreads Summary: Hoist the Jolly Robin! Fly with a swashbuckling crew as they soar through the air — and evade danger on the ground — in search of treasure and lofty adventure.
     Captain Blue Jay, notorious and feared pirate of the skies, has a fondness for collecting treasure, especially eggs. Unfortunately, sometimes his treasure hatches, and this time the hatchling is the strangest one theGrosbeak has ever seen. No sailor is certain whether the chick is a young god or just an oversized bird who needs too much food, but one thing is clear: the winds over Thrushland are shifting, and dramatic changes are in store for all. Whether outwitting a gang of thieving crows, outrunning murderous fishers and weasels, or rallying Briarloch’s beleaguered sparrows, this motley crew must do all they can to stay together and stay alive. And that’s just the tip of the bird’s feather! Offering a bounty of illustrations and a host of memorable characters — from an endearing star-nosed mole to an unlikely little warrior with a vendetta — here is a treasure for anyone who has ever wanted to take to the skies and see where fortune blows.  
What Jen Thinks: After reading Neversink by Barry Wolverton, I thought I was ready for Blue Jay the Pirate by Scott Nash...and actually, I think I pretty much was. I've realized when reading fantasy like this book that I have to let go of reality. I guess that makes sense, but as a reader, it is still hard for me to delve into books of fantasy that don't really make sense to me. I'm sure it has something to do with my personality type, but I get caught up in the things that don't seem like they can happen or the things that don't match up with this new fantastical world and then I get stuck. I've learned to be able to let that go more.
    Let me just ask you this...if the book is set in a world where birds/animals are anthropomorphized, wouldn't it make sense that if they were to eat an animal - say a bird eats a fish - said animal (the fish) should also possess these powers of humanism? I just feel like, if they are a talking animal, then any and every animal should also talk...right? I don't know if I really even agree with myself, these are just the kinds of questions that go through my head.
     I learned about myself as a reader when I read Neversink and I also learned that I have grown a bit as a reader now that I have read Blue Jay the Pirate. I loved the characters in this book and the fact that they are able to go off on this big adventure to save their ship and a colony of birds. I love pirates so I did my best to forget that the characters were birds and try to think of them as people. How I read fantasy books like this has evolved. Also, I gained more perspective as to what it might be like for students trying to read fantasy. It really isn't the easiest to read. While kids are following the plot as it develops, they are also visualizing a (sometimes) very different world. This also goes for writing as well. Authors who write fantasy or science fiction sometimes face creating a whole different world. When writing, they spend a lot of time developing and describing the setting so the reader can understand everything they need to read, understand and enjoy the book.
What Kellee Thinks:  First, I want to say I am very proud of Jen for learning to enjoy these types of fantasy. I think they are quite fun and definitely have a group of kids who enjoy them. And I agree anthropomorphism in books can go either way: amazing or stretching, but Blue Jay the Pirate definitely more amazing than stretching. Scott Nash makes a world of birds that could theoretically exist up in the sky. First we meet Blue Jay the Pirate who is an outlaw causing havoc to supply ships and other ships with treasures. He is one of the most feared pirates of the skies; however, he has a secret passion- collecting bird eggs. So, one day when he sees a strange, large egg he must have it and all of a sudden trouble envelopes his ship, the Grosbeak. 
     This novel is such an nonstop, swashbuckling adventure that you even begin to forget that the main characters are birds. The heroes are just as heroic as human characters and the villains are just as villainous. It will be a great book to recommend for fans of anthropomorphic books like Redwall and Seekers as well as pirate and adventure fans. 
Read Together: Grades 5 - 8 
Read Alone: Grades 6 - 8 
Read With: Neversink by Barry Wolverton,  Seekers (series) by Erin Hunter, Redwall (series) by Brian Jacques
Snatch of Text:  "Whilst fighting fearsome Finch's feet, we'be
sung out, "Yo! Heave ho!"
And hearing hawks hanging high have I 
nobly faced the foe; 
Then put round the grog, so we've that on our
We'll laugh in strife's homely face, and sing, 
"Yo! Heave ho!" 
We'll laugh in strife's homely face, and sing, 
"Yo! Heave ho!" (p. 1)

"It was about this tiny crow named Napoleon, who was about the size of a hummingbird. Well, Napoleon, he developed an attitude on account of his being so di-mun-u-tive - that means tiny -" And Crookie was off, launching into what turned out to be a very long story." (p. 276)
Mentor Text For: Poetry, Iambic Pentameter, Foreshadowing, Description, Allusion, Science/Sailing Vocabulary, Research, Anthropomorphism 
Writing Prompts: What kind of bird would be if you were a bird? Choose a bird (research or look around on the Internet or in a book if you need help) and then write about your day if you were a bird doing everything you usually do. 
Topics Covered: Sailing, Ornithology, Pirates
Jen and Kellee *heart* It: 

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