Thursday, May 6, 2010

Children's Book Reading Extravaganza 2010: Children's Novel #100

So a few weeks ago, a list of the Top 100 Children's Novels of ALL TIME (Sounds daunting, doesn't it?  Like it should be said in a booming voice that's all echo-y.) came out on the dear old internets.  As my mobility is not what it used to be thanks to Mini Mimi, I thought to myself, "Self, maybe you should plop yourself on the couch, read all these fantastic books and blog about them."  You all thought that was a fab idea aaaannnndd here we are. 

Before we begin - some logistics.  (Clearly we have to start here because in my mind, logistics = list making + planning = me wanting to sing "These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things."  A complicated yet amazing equation, I know.)  I'm thinking I will post once a week about the novels. Prob on the weekends.  So, it's going to take me roughly 100 weeks to get through them all. 

(Are you still with me?)
(Can I get a "HELL YEAH!"?)
(Hello?)

Not to fear, I also plan on simultaneously doing weekly updates on the Top 100 Children's Picture Books of ALL TIME (insert echo-y voice again here).  And, at the suggestion of one fabulous reader (Thanks Diandra!), I am also going to tackle The Top 50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Read because I am a) amazing and b) nerdily excited by my little project. 

Basically, I'm saying you are stuck with me talking about books every weekend for the foreseeable future.  (Not to fear, I will also keep up with the usual rantings, political commentaries and stories of my little friends.)

(deep breath)

Okay.  So now that most of you have clicked elsewhere (read: HOW LONG WINDED CAN YOU BE, WOMAN?!?), let's get back to #100 on the list of Top Children's Novels Of ALL TIME.  (Am so loving the booming voice complete with echo.)

The Egypt Game(Click on images for links, by the by.)

I've never read this one before.  Originally published in 1967, I kind of dug the strong female characters.  In a Mrs. Mimi-esque nutshell, a little girl named April moves in with her grandmother because her mother is off gallivanting with a boyfriend, trying to be an actress.  She befriends another girl, Melanie and together they discover an old abandoned junk yard behind an antique store.  Together they create an elaborate (complete with fab costumes!) game in which they pretend to be Ancient Egyptians.  Eventually three other neighborhood kids get involved in the game too.  However, it's all drama times when a local child is murdered (no graphic details) and it appears as if the Egypt Game has gone too far.  (Insert cliff hanger here...are you DYING?  No? Well...I tried.) 

It's a great story about imagination.  I mean, it's a great example of kids who don't sit around playing video games all day and are truly captivated with learning about another culture.  If you're looking for a book to bring Ancient Egypt to life or tie into a unit on Ancient Egypt, this may not be your book.  There isn't a lot of time spent on crazy accurate historical detail. 

According to the Scholastic Book Wizard, this book clocks in with a grade level of 5.9 and interest level of grades 6-8.  But, as a millionth-grader, I had a hard time sticking with it through a lot of the detail from time to time.  (If we're being honest with each other...)

Because I am always thinking of my little friends, this book did remind me quite a bit of Meggie Moon.

Meggie Moon

Another fab read aloud.  Both have strong female characters (Holla!!!) who have great imaginations and are able to put together amazing games out of basically piles of junk.  I mean, let's hear it for a resourceful girl, am I right?

So that's that.  1 down and 99 to go.  Next up, is The Indian in the Cupboard which I read about a billion years ago, but am a couple chapters into right now.  Stay tuuuuned...

Before I go and because I heart you all intensely...what do you think about this new little feature?  Anything you want me to talk about that I didn't?  Connections you want me to make?  Thoughts? (Other than telling me to "shut up" because that might hurt my feelings.)

Oh, and clearly, feel free to nerd out and read along with me!

15 comments:

Stu said...

Wow...what an awesome project. I have 21 days of teaching left. Maybe I'll join you. :)

Patti said...

LOVE the book feature idea. I'm so tired of getting a book based on a top whatever list only to find that it (in my opinion) isn't all that great or it just won't be happening with my bunch at any given time but I didn't know that because the description was lame and I hadn't read the book yet myself. No, I don't read books for the first time in front of children but I don't likw to waste my own time, either. It'll be nice to have descriptions from someone who actually knows what it's like to work with living children (rather than the imaginary ones who all seem to love boring books with no plot).

Super idea, keep 'em coming! Thanks!

Jackie Richter said...

Love the new feature! It is soooo hard to read all the children's literature out there to see if it's good, worth reading with kids, and what reading level.

Love the honest input - always good to know the good and bad. I would love to know if you agree with the reading level given either based on the topic, theme, content, vocabulary. I find in older books, the "suggested reading level" can sometimes be off.

Thanks so much! Maybe I will read with you!

eshyde said...

I heart children's books! I often read them on my own for no other reason than they kick butt. This is a great idea and I'll join you in the reading over the summer.

I teach Kindergarten and first grade and am always looking for a new chapter book read aloud. (Last year Charlotte's Web, this year Little House in the Big Woods. LOVE Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and My Father's Dragon.) SO, if you could be on the lookout for good read alouds for this age, or if any readers have suggestions, post, post, post!

Mimi said...

Thanks for all the feedback and keep it coming.

eshyde- I will totes keep my eye out for fab chapter book read alouds for the little ones - great idea! Not this one though..

Would anyone be interested in or find a chapter by chapter brief synopsis useful?

Erin said...

I love that you are doing this! This was going to be one of my summer projects, so I'll be a few weeks behind you. You might even save me a few reads. If you don't give a glowing report, I may skip the book. I agree that there are just too many books out there to read them all (although I'm certainly trying!)

JJPL said...

I have loved this book since I was a little girl. When I did an Egypt unit with my third-graders, we read it aloud and created all the projects the characters created and had our own "Egypt" in the room. Loved, loved, loved it. And great work! Keep it coming!

CassadillaJones said...

I love that you're doing this! 12 1/2 teaching days left... then perhaps I will have the time to also read these. I haven't even looked at the list yet because I just know I'll get drawn in!

Gina and the Gang said...

I love it! Do I get to make my own suggestions? Based on your blog...I can forsee my amazon bill going up very quickly!!

Beth said...

I really like Zilpha Snyder's characters, how they relate to each other and sometimes to the adults around them. They are a good example of kids who are decent but not all preachy.

There was a sequel to Egypt Games, in case anyone really needs to read more about them.

ChrisinNY said...

Ohh- I loved Betsy's poll. Not only did I vote, I got quoted a couple of times (preens a bit). I read each day's results first thing to see the next result, and all the accompanying comments from the previous day's post. Way to keep the fun ongoing....

Noah said...

love it love it love it love it!
I'm coming along for the ride - this is a great idea! As soon as I get home from the Arctic, I'm going straight to the public library...

I loved all of Snyder's books, and was riveted by The Egypt Game. We lived in rural Ontario when I read it, and then devoured all the rest of her books I could find in the beautiful Smith's Falls Public Library - and then I think I even did an art project based on it when I worked as an assistant children's librarian there a few years later. Nerdynerdboy was I - actually, I'm still a nerdynerd.

This is gonna be fun! Wait - I'll even check the list and the library here in the school to see if there are any of the titles on the list not translated into Inuttitut! WOW!

See. Still a nerdynerd.

Anita said...

<3 <3 <3 Love Love Love <3 <3 <3 This idea! As a first year teacher, an avid reader myself, a mom to two gifted girls that read way beyeond their 9 and 10 years (my mini mes)and a huge fan of your very honest opinions, this ROCKS!

Thanks so much for using your precious time to untertake this. But beware, once mini mimi arrives, it may become a bigger undertaking than it is now.

Now, off to read with my Super Amazing Mini Mes!

Thanks Bunches

Mimi said...

Erin - Yay! Join me! Summer 'o reading, here we come!

CassadillaJones - enjoy those last few days...you're almost there!

Gina and the Gang - suggestions welcome!

Noah- your comments always make me smile. But, you're in the ARCTIC?! More details please...

WishWriter said...

Mrs. Mimi, this is such a great idea! I think I'll join you. I'm always looking for great read alouds! I'm teaching fifth and sixth grade and we almost read The Egypt Game, but my kids voted for Chains (Laurie Halse Anderson) instead... it was a close vote. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts about the next 99!

Who's Peeking?