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by Jim Trelease
• excerpts from The Treasury of Read-Alouds •
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The Treasury of Read-Alouds

by Jim Trelease © 2013

NOVELS (full) page 1 of 4

These books represent a brief portion of the hundreds
cited in The-Read-Aloud Handbook.

Adam Canfield of The Slash

by Michael Winerip      Gr. 5-8      326 pages      Candlewick, 2005

cover of Adam Canfield of the SlashIf you had to summarize this book in one sentence, it would be: "Woodward and Bernstein meet Joe and Frank Hardy." Better make that "Jo" Hardy, because half of this intrepid duo is an African-American female named Jennifer, the level-headed and bright co-editor of Harris Elementary/Middle School's student newspaper, The Slash. The role of Frank falls to co-editor Adam Canfield, a bright but unlevel-headed eighth-grader. Instead of Bayport, author Michael Winerip (a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for The New York Times) has placed his young co-editors in wealthy Tremble, suburbia brimming with over-scheduled kids too busy to play, school administrators and real estate agents too focused on test scores, and a husband-wife team that owns both the cable company and the local newspaper and thus able to slant news and views as they wish.

True, Jennifer and Adam use methods only an experienced adult investigative reporter would know, but they retain a child's view of the world. Super-kids but still kids at heart. The nucleus of the novel is a contest of wills between the ill-tempered principal, Mrs. Morris, and the two editors. This is a superb introduction to modern journalism and to some contemporary issues the author has dealt with as a reporter. SEQUEL: Adam Canfield, Watch Your Back!; and Adam Canfield: The Last Reporter. Related book: The Landry News by Andrew Clements.


Because of Winn-Dixie

by Kate DiCamillo      Gr. 2–5      182 pages      Candlewick, 2000

Ten-year-old Opal Buloni is not only the new kid in town, she’s also a preacher’s kid. And she is one of the most refreshing characters to come to children’s literature in a dog’s age. Speaking of dogs, she picked up a stray at the neighborhood Winn-Dixie grocery (that’s how it got its name) and charms her daddy into letting her keep him. She also charms everyone she meets, collecting the weirdest assortment of cast-off grown-ups and kids you’ll ever meet and grow fond of. Also by the author: The Tale of Despereaux. Related books: A Blue-Eyed Daisy by Cynthia Rylant; Ida Early Comes over the Mountain by Robert Burch; Lilly's Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff; and Riding Freedom by Pam Muñoz Ryan.

Bud, Not Buddy

by Christopher Paul Curtis      Gr. 4–8      243 pages      Delacorte, 1999

After escaping a succession of bad foster homes, ten-year-old Buddy sets out to find the man he suspects to be his father—a popular jazz musician in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Told in the first person, this engaging Newbery winner brims with humor and compassion, while offering a keen insight into the workings of a child’s mind during the Great Depression. Related books: A Family Apart by Joan Lowery Nixon; No Promises in the Wind by Irene Hunt; and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor. Also by the author: The Watsons Go to Birmingham. If you have the free plugin RealAudio, you can hear a one-hour interview with the author online at: mm20030512.shtml which ran on Minnesota Public Radio May 16, 2003.

Charlotte's Web: 50th anniversary edition

by E. B. White; Garth Williams, illus.      K–4      213 pages      Harper, 2002

One of the most acclaimed books in children’s literature, it is loved by adults as well as children. The tale centers on the barnyard life of a young pig who is to be butchered in the fall. The animals of the yard (particularly a haughty gray spider named Charlotte) conspire with the farmer’s daughter to save the pig’s life. While there is much humor in the novel, the author uses wisdom and pathos in developing his theme of friendship within the cycle of life.

It took them 50 years, but E. B. White's publisher finally included something about the author. For a half century, this modern classic didn't include a single sentence about the author in the hardcover edition. The only mention was his byline on the cover. With this 50th anniversary edition we have some information to bring the man alive for young readers: how he lived, how he wrote, and samples of his editing and concerns while he wrote. Twelve pages by Peter Neumeyer were added to this handsome oversize edition, pages that do a great writer justice. The print in this edition is half again larger than the regular hardcover and paperback, thus accounting for a slightly longer book. Also by the author: Stuart Little. Beverly Gherman’s E. B. White: Some Writer! is an excellent children’s biography of the author. Related books: Spiders! From Time for Kids is an excellent picture book on the world of spiders; Babe the Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith; Cricket in Times Square by George Selden; and Poppy by Avi. For adult fans of E.B. White, the Web offers a delightful profile of the author by his stepson, the long-time The New Yorker essayist Roger Angell: ANDY (from issues Feb. 14 and 21, 2005).

cover of City of EmberThe City of Ember

by Jeanne Duprau      Gr. 4-7      288 pages      Random, 2003

More than 240 years before the story opens, a great holocaust confronted the population of Earth. To save the species, one group created a huge underground city, Ember, that would be safe from the ravages above. Complete with giant storehouses of supplies and a huge generator, humanity could survive. These forefathers also conceived a means by which the inhabitants would be able to extricate themselves from their underground tomb after 200 years, estimating that by then the surface would be habitable again. Detailed instructions were given to the care of the mayor, who, in turn, would pass them to his successor. The book picks up the story almost 250 years later. Those instructions have long been misplaced and forgotten, and so has much of history. The people know only their life underground and live increasingly meager existences with dwindling supplies and energy.

But the youngest generation is chaffing under the regimentation of the old order, even wondering if there might be something beyond the here and now, pondering "What if —? Two such people are 12-year-olds Doon and Lina. The latter has stumbled on some strange but ancient instructions in her grandmother's closet, and the former is a born rebel and questioner but sentenced to spend the rest of his life repairing the plumbing in the bowels of the city. Together they begin the journey outward and upward that will save their civilization—if they can ever get anyone to follow them. Sequels: The People of the Sparks; The Prophet of Yonwood; The Diamond of Darkhold; also a graphic novel version by Dallas Middaugh and Niklas Asker. Related titles: The Giver by Lois Lowry; Journey Outside by Mary Q. Steele; and When the Tripods Came by John Christopher.

City of Orphans

by Avi    Gr. 5-8     350 pages    Atheneum, 2011 e-book

It’s 1893 on the lower East Side of New York City and the tenements are brimming with poor immigrants, most of them living lives of desperation, others dying by the wayside. In the middle of this mix we find the Geless family, including the story’s main character, 13-year-old Maks. As a school dropout, he’s earning 8 cents a day selling newspapers on street corners, then turning the money over to help support his family—the same thing his older sisters do with their money. As the narrative plays out (told through the vernacular of a working-class New Yorker of that time whose English is less than perfect, not unlike the technique used in Tom Sawyer), we meet the realities of life in America where the streets were never paved with gold, dreams sometimes came true but most often did not; and the primal power of family bonding. Indeed, as we live through five days in the Geless household, we encounter all the hardships and indignities of poverty. The book is arranged in 91 two-page chapters, perfect for short readings. Related film: Newsies, the Disney film musical based on the 1899 newsboys strike against the newspaper barons Pulitzer and Hearst. See also the New York Times article “Read All About It! Kids Vex Titans!” by Dan Barry, March 5, 2012, about the Broadway show based on the same events. A Google search for “Lewis Hine + newsboys” will give you hundreds of original newsboy images from that era, taken by the famous photographer/sociologist.

Picture Books:  p.1   p.2   p.3
Short Novels :  p.1   p.2   p.3
  Novels:  p.1   p.2   p.3   p.4 Anthologies:  p.1 Fairy & Folk Tales :  p.1  Poetry:  p.1

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