Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Junie B., First Grader: Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten (and Other Thankful Stuff) by Barbara Park

I had planned this post long before the sad news that Barbara Park had passed away.  I decided to go ahead with it in homage to her and the character she created.  Junie B Jones has helped so many kids learn to love reading, including a few in my family.
Thank you, Barbara.

It is Thanksgiving week and Mr. Scary's first graders in Room One have some activities planned to help celebrate the holiday.

On the Monday before Thanksgiving, the kids begin a list of things that they are thankful for to enter into the school's Thankful contest.  The class with the best list will win a homemade pumpkin pie.  Trouble is, no one in Room One likes pumpkin pie, it makes them vomit.  But a Thankful List is begun and includes such things as cranberry jelly in a can (Junie's choice) and exploding biscuits (you know, the kind that you bash on the counter to open).  

On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, everyone has a Thankful Bag to fill with something they are thankful for.    But they can't show each other what's in their bag until it is their turn at Show and Tell.  Imagine a whole day of Show and Tell.  This is great until rich Lucille opens her Thankful Bag and waves all the money in it around the classroom and everyone goes diving for ones, fives, tens and twenties.  A trip to the principal's office delays things a bit.  Junie brought in her favorite stuffed elephant and her nemisis May brought in the same exact stuffed animal.  Words are exhanged, another delay and both girls end up having their elephants taken away by Mr. Scary.  But, despite all, by the end of the day, the class has a list of twenty things on their Thankful List, though Mr. Scary seems somewhat dismayed by what the students listed.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the class is to come in dressed as pilgrims or Native Americans.  Junie isn't happy being a pilgrim, and she is especially unhappy when May comes in dressed as the Native American Princess she wanted to be.  First thing in the morning, the winner of the Thankful List contest is named and, much to everyone's surprise, particularly Mr. Scary, it turns out to be Room One because they had the most honest list ever.  Later in the day, invited parents and other relatives arrive to enjoy a feast with the kids of food they brought with them.  And it turns out that some pumpkin pie is better than others!

Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten is a laugh out loud story with lots of lessons to be learned.  The basic theme here is thankfulness and in the end that is was really comes across.  I thought the fact that the teacher didn't try to change the kids' list choices to make it more PC was a nice touch, and I think the list reflects reality more than we might like to think.  But that is OK, kids really do like such things as rainbow sprinkles, cookies, but not the coconut kind, and the big box of 64 crayons (I was pretty thankful the first time I got a box of 64 crayons).

Parents and teachers don't generally like the Junie B. Jones books, but kids do.  My Kiddo and her cousins always read them and, despite some incorrect grammar and sometimes rowdy behavior, it didn't seem to rub off.

And when you are a 4th grade teacher in a failing school, and a few of the kids in your class have discovered Junie B., and the Amber Brown series and want to read their stories, you are pretty thankful that they want to read anything at all.

This book is recommended for readers age 6+
This book was purchased for my personal library

1 comment:

  1. I love Junie B Jones. I haven't read this one. Is it new?


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