Friday, June 21, 2013

The Mighty Lalouche

Title: The Mighty Lalouche 
Author: Matthew Olshan   
Illustrator: Sophia Blackall  
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade 
Publication Date: May 14th, 2013 
Genre/Format: Historical Fiction/Picture Book
GoodReads Summary:  In Paris, France, there lived a humble postman named Lalouche. He was small, but his hands were nimble, his legs were fast, and his arms were strong. When his job was replaced by an electric car, he turned to boxing to support himself and his pet finch, Genevieve. But--"You? A boxer?" the fighters asked. "I could sneeze and knock you down!" Still, Lalouche refused to give up. And perhaps small Lalouche was just nimble . . . just fast . . . and just strong enough to beat his fierce competitors. This is a marvelous story, full of humor and heart, and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, winner of a New York Times Best Illustrated Award. 
What Jen Thinks: I'm not sure if there's a name for a time when you read exactly the right book that you need at just the right time in your life but that happened to me with this book. I'm still thinking about what I want to be when I grow up. As I learn and grow more and more, I discover new things that I'm passionate about and I'm finding opportunities that are taking my life in different directions. This is exactly what happens to our funky friend Lalouche. I actually really love Lalouche. He seems like a simple guy who knows what he likes and knows what's important to him. He has a sweet little bird friend who means a lot to him. And then something unexpected and crummy happens to Lalouche. Lalouche has to make a decision! Does he accept defeat or does he make the most of his situation and take advantage of an opportunity that crosses his path. I think readers will fall in love with this little man and want to root for him but learn from his story as well.
What Kellee Thinks: This is one of those books that you read and you automatically want to share with others. It is so interesting and quirky, illustrated perfectly, and teaches you about an interesting time in French history. Within the first pages, you fall in love with LaLouche and I love that he is brave enough to not only do something that seems impossible, but to stand up to those who are bigger, stronger, and meaner than he is.  And the story is told in a fun, humorous way that, in the end, teaches the reader a lesson about following your heart.
     One of my favorite things about this book is the illustrations. They fit the time period perfectly and remind me of the later work of  Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Jean-Marc Côté. By emulating the feel of these French artists, Sophie Blackall has transported the reader to the late 19th century streets of France. 
     This book is also chock-full of teaching opportunities. The vocabulary and descriptive language that fills these pages are opportunities to practice a ton of reading and writing strategies including showing a character's traits without stating them, exclamatory sentences filled with descriptive language (onomatopoeia, imagery, alliteration), and learning new vocabulary. 
Read Together: Grades K to 8
Read Alone: Grades 3 to 5
Read With: Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet, The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordical Gerstein 
Snatch of Text:   
"One hundred and few-odd years ago,
in Paris France, there lived
a humble postman named Lalouche.
He was small, Lalouche,
and rather bony,
but his hands were nimble,
his legs were fast,
and his arms were strong."
Reading Strategies to Practice: Vocabulary Development, Character Traits
Writing Strategies to Practice: Onomatopoeia, Alliteration, Exclamatory Sentences, Descriptive Language, Commas (series)
Writing Prompts: At the end LaLouche makes a decision that is a bit controversial. Do you agree with his decision? Would you have made the same decision? Explain your answers using evidence from the text to support your answer.
Topics Covered: Hopes, Dreams, Determination, Love, Passion
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