Book Bears is my library reading group. These second and third graders read a book each month, and we have a discussion about the book. We talk about everything. Everything! Let me tell you, this group is terrific. Everyone is different. I sit back and watch as they talk and laugh. The best part is that I’m included in the group. Reading is a magnet.
In September, our first meeting of the year, everyone brings their favorite book they read over the summer. Me, too. I brought Bob, by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead. Frankly, I think it’s the book of the year. Fingers crossed for a Newbery nomination.
I picked a random page to read aloud, and I watched the children as the words went into their ears. Oh, those words were hitting their brains. They were wide-eyed and silent. Finally one child asked, “So who is Bob?”
I had hit the trigger to the brain. They had no idea the trigger to the heart would come later.
Bob is the story of a girl, Livy, who travels with her family to visit her grandmother in Australia. The problem is, Livy is eleven years old, and the last time she visited her grandmother in Australia, she was five. She doesn’t remember much, and when she finds Bob in the closet, she certainly doesn’t remember him.
He remembers her. And the story unfolds. The back of the book cover reads:
- Counted to 987,654,321. Six times.
- Built a Lego pirate ship. Sixty-three times. In the dark.
- Played chess against a Lego pirate monkey and still lost most of the time.
- Tried to do the hokey pokey like Livy had taught me, but there’s not much room to turn oneself around in this narrow closet without hitting the walls.
- Cried. But only once.
- Okay, twice. Each day. But only for the first year.
- Thought of all the reasons that might explain why Livy didn’t come back for me.
The chapters alternate between Bob and Livy, in their own voices. Each one has a story to tell, and reasons for remembering and not remembering. The story line is gripping and real, and the writing is so well done that putting the book down is nearly impossible.
The Book Bears decided that at the end of each meeting they wanted me to read aloud Bob. And I am doing just that. They know when it’s 4:30, time to finish and go home. We decided together that at 4:25 I’d read Bob. Five minutes.
Well, it hasn’t worked out that way. By 4:20 the clock watchers get ready and start to bang the table, chanting “Bob! Bob! Bob!…” in the best of ways. That is the most genuine testament to a good book! Of course I keep reading, and those five minutes turn into fifteen or twenty, all in what feels like an instant.
“Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire.” -William Butler Yeats-
Great to see you with the older kids, and to hear about that great book too. 🙂
Best wishes, Pete.
Thanks, Pete. And that photo is only part of the group. They are wonderful. Best to you!
Jennie, this sounds like a wonderful story for not just children, but for fantasy loving adult readers too. 🙂
I’m so glad you could tell! Bob is a real zombie. You will love the book. It was my favorite over the summer.
Jennie, it will be a must read for me, now that I can read again. I just had eye and lid surgery about 10 days ago, because I haven’t been able to read or write with any clarity for sometime now, In another week or two I will be able to read and write again without struggling to see the words. Karen 🙂
Oh, no! I hope that all will be well when you heal, Karen. The eyes are so important. You know that I only write about a book if it sends me over the moon. And if my library kids feel the same way, that’s even better. Happy reading, and thank you! 🙂
What a lovely book club idea!
That’s wonderful, Jennie! Bob’s now on my TBR list! 😄 And I love the quote by Yeats!! Happy week, my friend!
Thank you, Sarah! You will love the book. Happy week to you!
Bob sounds like a great book. Must check it out. I love your Book Bears group!
Thank you, Darlene! It really is a great book.
Sounds like a great book Jennie. You do such a great job!!
Thanks so much, Opher!
Oh, this book sounds so sweet!
It is! Thank you.
That last quote is so important to remember. I love that they force to read.
The head librarian is very understanding when the Bob chant begins. 🙂 Thank you, Dan.
Good early training!
I loved this story and I think I’d love the book. What a wonderful energy you allow to form in your groups. “Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire.” -William Butler Yeats- My favorite quote.
Thank you, Marlene. I’m so glad you liked the story. The quote really drives the arrow into the heart, doesn’t it?
Great book idea, Jennie. Thanks for sharing.
You’re welcome, John.
My favorite part of school was when the teacher would read to us after lunch to settle us down. Now I listen to books to recreate that same wonderful sense of being warmed by another’s voice. Great post about sharing your love with kids.
People remember when their teachers read aloud. You certainly did. 🙂 When something sticks with you, that is powerful. That’s why I read aloud. And I’m so glad that you listen to books to keep those memories going. Just wonderful. Thank you, Elizabeth.
My goodness, it sounds like an amazing book, Jennie. It makes me wish I had been there, sitting in the floor, listening with the kids. Mega hugs!
I wish you’d been there, too. It was (and is) just… well, like finding a fairy in the woods with the children. I could give you many more analogies, because that’s just what happens. Thank you, Teagan! 😀
Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
Here is another excellent post from that wonderful teacher, Jennie!
Thank you, Charles!
You are welcome, Jennie!
Reblogged this on The Perils of Improbable Potholes.
I will need to get hold of that book. I know that two of my book-loving students would be drawn to “Bob”, like moths to flame.
You won’t be disappointed!!
this sounds like a wonderful book and a wonderful experience for all of you –
It is definitely a wonderful book. And the experience is THE best, fortunately something I get to live through most every day during chapter reading. Really.
Oh, Jennie. I love the sound of this book. I wish I was in your reading group. The back of the book reads beautifully. Oh, I feel so sad for Bob, alone in that closet and counting and wondering, and crying, and counting and wondering … It can’t have been much fun playing chess with a pirate monkey in the dark; and hokey pokey on his own when there’s no room to move … well – I’m ordering my copy now!
You are exactly like I was when I read the back of the book. Who is Bob, and how can he still be in a closet? After all, Livy was only five the last time she was there… I don’t want to spoil the story for you. All I can say is that it is one of the best books. Really. And, it happens in Australia!
I liked that about the book too. I can’t wait until my copy arrives here in Australia. My Hub is Bob too, so I think my grandchildren (who are just the right age) will have an additional reason to love it. 🙂
I’m so glad, Norah. You must tell me what you think of the book after you read it!
I will! 🙂
There are so many amazing American children’s books I have never heard of, Jennie. I am so glad I met you and I can learn about the. This sounds wonderful.
Robbie, this is one book you will want to read aloud to your boys. Well, they could read it on their own, but you will love it as much as they will. There are so many American children’s books, and many I haven’t heard of either. I’d also recommend The Wild Robot. It is outstanding. Thank you for your kind words, Robbie. I am so glad I met you, too!
I am going to look for this one on Amazon, Jennie. Thanks for mentioning The Wild Robot. I am sure I have seen that book on your site before. I will look for that one too. So nice we can swop great book knowledge.
I so enjoy swapping books with you, Robbie. 🙂
New hand-sell! I love having new books to push! Thank you for this wonderful suggestion!
You are welcome, KC. And just so you know, Bob is a zombie. Really.
I love reading children’s books so much. We should all do it so that we never forget what it is like to be a child. I took a class in college on children’s literature, and it saved me from the dull, dry reading I was dealing with. Adult books should also never be so dry that they kill our spirits, and teachers, even at the adult level, should also never make the subjects so dry. Archaeology should be an exciting subject, but when I was in school studying that, the teachers made it so (pardon the pun) dead, and our writing papers so impersonal that I am amazed that I got a degree. Out in the fields it was more alive, but even there it lacked so much that could have been. I am glad there are people out there trying to breathe life back into education.
My entire schooling was filled with dull books (Moby Dick, Beowulf) and I never found a passion for reading. Pretty sad. Thank goodness I have found this now, and spread that to others. It’s never too late. Yes, that class in children’s literature is a ray of sunshine in reading. There are so many good books. My job is to read every one with a voice that can light a fire of reading. Thank you, Anne.
Yes, the reader is everything when you are reading out loud to the children. I have heard readers who are so dull that it is hard to believe any story is worth hearing. It takes a genuine love of reading aloud to children and others, and a genuine love of the stories you are reading as well.
Well said, Anne!
I love the sound of this book, Jenny – thank you for sharing:))
It is a winner. You are welcome!
Jennie, a terrific review/description of the book … I’m hooked and I’m sure you can hear my voice calling out ‘Bob’! I will just have to read this, sounds amazing! How wonderful these older children are still all keen to read and it’s fantastic that ‘Reading is a magnet’ for them all. Long may it be so.
Thank you, Annika. It really is wonderful how these older children are so keen on both the book and being read to. You will love Bob!
This book sounds delightful, Jennie! I promptly added it to my wish list.
Thank you! I’m so glad you put it on your read list.
It sounds terrific.❤
There are always those reads that allow me to experience the state of sweet innocence.😇