Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gooney Bird Greene

We stumbled across Gooney Bird Greene series by Lois Lowry. Thanks to Sandhya, Lois Lowry was a familiar name. I thumbed through the book and quickly digested that the book was about a quirky little girl in second grade. Gooney Bird tells tall tales, has an ‘interesting’ fashion sense and has an exceptionally high level of confidence. At first it reminded me of Pippi Longstokings, but Lois Lowry does manage to differentiate this very Pippi-like character, well at least in my mind.

While Pippi made me a little sad, I did not have this lump in my throat and a heavy heart when I read Gooney Bird. While Pippi leaves you wondering if her claim that she has super human strength and that she can bake a 100 dozen cookies in an hour are true, Gooney Bird assures that all her stories are 100% real. Though her stories are ‘HOW GOONEY BIRD CAME TO THE TOWN OF WATERTOWER, USA FROM CHINA ON A FLYING CARPET’, ‘HOW GOONEY BIRD’S BELOVED PET CAT, CATMAN, GOT CONSUMED BY A COW’, ‘HOW SHE GOT LATE FOR SCHOOL BECAUSE SHE WAS DIRECTING THE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA’.

And yes, all of Gooney’s stories are true. For those of you asking me are flying carpets true? can cows eat cats? can a second grader conduct an orchestra? All I can say is, pick a book and find out for yourself.

I loved Gooney because of her confidence, her curiosity to be in the middle of things, her genuine effort to help her friends and her ability to transforms and inspire even the shiest child in the classroom. Also through Gooney Bird, Lois Lowry tells her readers how to write a story! She talks about the components of a story - how to choose a title, how to keep the audience interested, when to add ‘suddenly’ and give a twist in the story, descriptions etc. She also talk about how to tell a true story full of facts and numbers without boring the audience, how to write a fiction based on real historical characters, ambiguous endings which open up different possibilities and such. In a nutshell, it is creative writing 101 geared to kids.

What endeared Gooney Bird to my younger child was Gooney’s fashion sense. With her three pony tails, cowboy boots on pajama pants, velvet coats etc, she found a soul sister in Gooney Bird. Gooney has inspired her to think deeply about emotions. When ever I read, ‘she slumped her shoulders’ or ‘he scowled’, she asks me to act out slumping shoulders or scowling and she is processing the information. My older child adores Gooney Bird because of her stories. She is inspired and wants to write her own stories.

Yay to Gooney Bird! We are sad that we have only one more Gooney bird book that we haven’t read.

Yay to Lois Lowry for her faith and respect in young people and her ability to simplify information without being condescending.


Choxbox said...

You won’t believe this - we picked up one just today!

Will report back once we read it.

sandhya said...

If it is not the one in which Gooney Bird comes as a new girl to the school, I'm lining up for it, Chox!

Stumbled upon these the other day while searching for something-

Poppy said...

Sounds really interesting. Looks like it's easily available too -here we (read: the child) haven't liked any of the character based chapter books except for Flat Stanley and Nate the Great. Should try this one.

Meera Sriram said...

Eager to pick these up for R! It seems nicer than some of the others in the family. Thanks A.

Praba Ram said...

Didnt know there were other stories based on the same character. We have read just the first one Sandhya has mentioned.Enjoyed the character analysis of Pippi vs Gooney! :)

Poppy - nate the great certainly rang a bell...I remember checking a few out when my older one was in KG/first grade. Cowgirl Kate too for that mater, when she had a short-lived fascination with all things cowgirl-ish. :)

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