I reviewed a Gooneybird Greene book by Lois Lowry last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. There are a whole series of Gooneybird Greene books, and Gooney The Fabulous is my first completed book of 2016. It’s a good way to start the year.
The editions I have are by Yearling and are marketed as transitional or chapter books. They’re excellent for children who are moving on from picture books but are not yet ready for an entire novel. Short, entertaining and with a few black and white illustrations to break up the text these are a much more achievable prospect for the newly confident reader.
What I particularly like about the Gooneybird books are the fact that they deal with writing and story telling. They’re by no means dry though. Gooneybird Greene, as her name suggests, is somewhat eccentric. She wears strange clothes to school, has exotic lunches and is incredibly confident. She is not, however, a horrible character at all. She is kind and thoughtful without being sappy, and her class mates adore her. She reminds me of a kind of American style Pippi Longstocking in some ways.
Gooney bird’s own confidence is something she very gently teaches to the rest of the class. Between her and the class teacher Mrs. Pidgeon, they nurture each child’s individuality and the class learns to be proud of who they are and still work together and help each other. It may sound far too nice, but the lessons here are delivered with humour and a kindness that makes them palatable.
This book is all about fables. Mrs. Pidgeon shares Aesop’s fables with the class and then she and Gooneybird help each child come up with their own fable which they share with the class.
It would be a great book to share in class, particularly if you are looking at fables or different kinds of writing. It’s suitable for boys and girls aged 6-10.