Monday, April 4, 2011

Sweet Kindness: A Sick Day For Amos McGee

Everyone was charmed by Philip C. Stead's (illustrator Erin E. Stead) A Sick Day for Amos McGee, which we read with A in her special sleep-over guest appearance. It was the last finalist for the Cybils Fiction Picture Books, so I felt some elation at viewing it. To keep things more fair, I hadn't told the kids it was the last book. Their enthusiasm surprised me -- this is a quiet book, about the kindness a zoo keeper shows to his friends in the zoo, and the reciprocal care they give him when he doesn't show up one day.

The resonances with Goodnight, Gorilla helped too -- the shy penguin has a red balloon that shows up a lot; we immediately went back to the beginning to check for it. It's not on every page, but follows the penguin around before escaping at the end. And the hide-and-seek game reminded us of a shark vs train competition from last week. This is a cosy story about friendship and consideration.  A

After we finished this book, I challenged the kids to pick a winner. We went over all the choices, and I reminded them that Cybils were for books both the adult and the kid enjoy. X unhesitatingly picked Shark vs Train, although Chalk tempted him a bit. A wavered between Chalk and Amos McGee, but finally picked tonight's book. P had the most trouble, and we worked slowly through the choices, pitting various books against each other.  His final two -- Shark vs Train and A Sick Day for Amos McGee -- were very hard to decide between, because they are very different books. He wanted to know who was reading them -- a toddler, a preschooler, an early reader, or a fourth grader? What are the kids like? Who is to say what is best? You are to say, I told him, and he finally, painfully, picked Shark vs Train. As did I. I'm a sucker for a shark story, and X trained me in locomotive appreciation many years ago.

The book like is meant to benefit the Cybils committee, if anyone clicks it.

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