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Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Ghosts of Luckless Gulch (#bookaday)

Twitter and I have only recently become friends, and one of the feeds (is that what they are called?) I follow is #bookaday. Initially, I couldn't figure out how people were doing this. Initially, I thought most #bookaday posts were for full-length novels. I read a ton, but not even I can manage that. It took some exploring to discover that most of the books are children's books. 

I have children's books to teach with, and they are wonderful. Most are witty beyond the level of the child reader, filled with delight for the adult reader. I never thought to sit down and start reading them on my own - until today. This morning, battling the icing roads, I ventured to the library to grab a backpack-ful of children's books. 

My first read: The Ghosts of Luckless Gulch by Anne Isaacs. This is a delightful tall-tale. Here is some of what I like about the book:

  • Great one-liners: 
    • "It's stranger than a square tomato!" 
    • "It's odder than a skunk selling perfume."
  • Awesome exaggeration
    • a man so thin he rented himself out as a pencil
    • a man so scrawny he couldn't cast a shadow
    • ants so big they can pull a stagecoach
  • Oddball characters
    • a sheep as strong as an elephant
    • a horse who likes to climb hills
    • a dog who bounces like a rubber ball
    • a gang of singing ghostly gold-diggers
    • the fastest running girl in the west
  • Lots of concepts that kids will miss
    • sign posted by ghosts: 
      • "You don't stand a ghost of a chance."
      • "Dead Man Mine"
    • towns with names like Poverty Town, Destitution Ridge, Pig Wallow, Last Chance, Lost Cause, Doom City, Busted Flat, and Dead Broke
  • Challenging vocabulary
    • destitution, prospector, hasty, varmints, quarrel, commenced, spectacles

The Ghosts of Luckless Gulch is a fun story, and I tried to read it for pure enjoyment. It is so rich for teaching that I could not help but see all the possibilities. I may have to hang on to this one for a read-aloud this last full week of classes before winter break. 

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