Gooney Bird is So Absurd
Written by Lois Lowery
Illustrated by Middy Thomas
Gooney Bird is the “new” girl at Watertower Elementary school, but by January, Mrs. Pigeon’s second grade is mostly used to her unique ways. She still surprises them occasionally, like when the kids realize that her “brain-warming hat” is really a pair of frilly bottom underpants even though it seems made for her two ponytails. is ready for Mrs. Pigeon’s newest challenge: poetry. They have lively discussions about what poetry is and isn’t, even how many different kinds of poems there are. Their favorite part is when Mrs. Pigeon brings in poems written by her mother, a woman they call Mrs. X. And Mrs. X seems to have poems that demonstrate every type. They know Mrs. X is old and in a nursing home, but one day Mrs. Pigeon is absent because Mrs. X died. They were about to do poems in different voices so what do they do now? They make their own poem, in voices, as a tribute to Mrs. X.
What an emotionally satisfying read! Gooney Bird may be eccentric but she knows what is important. She comes up with the idea for the video-card the class sends to Mrs. Pigeon, which would be a great model for a literacy activity. Mrs. Pigeon is patient and savvy with a class full of distinct characters. The reading level at 4.9 is challenging for a 3rd grade reader but the insight of the class will resonate with second through fourth graders. Dealing with death in an early chapter book is unusual but these characters handle it with wisdom beyond their years. This is the perfect read aloud for a class doing a poetry unit. There is a discussion guide for all the Gooney Bird Greene books on the publisher’s website: (http://www.hmhbooks.com/gooneybirdgreene/pdfs/gooneybirdgreene_guide1.pdf)