My kids and I have read two excellent books this week.
CALL IT COURAGE (1940), by Armstrong Sperry. I remember reading this one as a child. I just re-read it with my son Jesse, 7, who is in second grade. The vocabulary is too advanced for him to read it on his own. And when I read it to him, I have to paraphrase occasionally, to keep the flow going. But overall, this is a fantastic story about a frightened young Pacific Island boy who leaves home and winds up on a deserted tropical island with just his dog and pet albatross. To stay alive, he builds whale-bone tools and a palm-frond shelter. He even kills a shark and a wild boar. My son was totally entranced.
THERE’S A BOY IN THE GIRL’S BATHROOM (1987), by Louis Sachar. I am so impressed by this author. He wrote the Wayside School books, as well as the Newberry winner Holes. He has a totally original, highly observant, highly sympathetic sensibility, along with a good sense of humor and an extremely simple writing style. For me, he’s up there with Roald Dahl in terms of producing work that both the child and the parent can enjoy together. This book is about the heroic efforts of a school counselor to rescue a troubled student named Bradley Chalkers. At one point, she asks him to draw up a list of topics he would like to discuss at their next session. He comes up with a meandering, exhaustive, three-page list. It will break your heart.