Sunday, July 20, 2008


Earlier this spring, I came across HOW TO STEAL A DOG, by Barbara O'Connor. I loved, loved, loved this book, and have decided that it will be my first read aloud of the year, when I begin teaching struggling fourth and fifth graders at Stedman.

This morning I finished GREETINGS FROM NOWHERE, another new favorite by Barb O'Connor. Another book I love, love, loved!

GREETINGS FROM NOWHERE has four main characters:
Aggie- owner of the Sleepy Time Motel, whose husband, Harold, has recently passed away

Willow- a ten-year-old girl who has  an "almost perfect life" except that her parents don't love each other. Dorothy, Willow's mother, leaves the family, and Clyde, her dad, decides to start over by buying the Sleepy Time Motel.

Kirby- a "bad boy" whose mother is on her way to drop him off at the Smoky Mountain Boys' Academy until her car breaks down 

Loretta- a ten-year-old girl whose family takes a vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains after she  receives a shoebox full of artifacts from her birth mother

These four characters, along with their families, connect at the Sleepy Time Motel. 

I loved this book. It's a story of loss- of people who have to let go of people, places,  and objects that they love. I know so, so, so many kids who face that every day. Their grief is so big and books like this make the hurt a little easier. GREETINGS FROM NOWHERE is also a story of hope and redemption- of people who need and find and care for each other. I know so, so, so many kids who need books like that too. They need to know that even when life is really, really hard, there are people, adults and kids, who will be there to care for them. 

I loved the relationships in this book- Aggie's relationship with the kids, especially Kirby and Willow, who seem to so hungry for love. I loved Loretta's relationship with her adoptive mom and dad. I'm an adoptive mom, but I don't think I'm nearly as good at it as she is. I loved Kirby's relationship with Burla, a woman who evidently took him under her wing in his past life. I loved watching Willow, Kirby, and Loretta develop a friendship with each other. 

I loved the fact that no one in this book had much, at least not in terms of material things, but at the same time, everyone was so willing to share the little that they did have. Most of the kids I know are a lot like these kids- they don't have much. And yet again and again, I'm overwhelmed by their willingness to share- a half bottle of perfume on my desk at Christmas, a well-loved stuffed animal for our reading corner, the dessert from a Lunchable on a field trip.  That message is so, so contrary to the "have lots, get more" message that kids see again and again and again in today's media.

On a wanna be writerly note- Barb O'Connor does an amazing job "constructing" this book. Each chapter focuses on one of these four characters. Barb O'Connor is so great at keeping the story moving, and at using actions and dialogue to develop characters. 

On a teacher note-  I loved the short chapters and short sentences. I could easily read a couple of chapters of this book aloud to kids, then hand it to them to read for themselves. Kids who don't read well, but might need this book in their lives, could definitely read it by themselves or with me or each other

A definite five-star winner!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't wait to share this book with kids!!!!!! And I want to get the rest of her books and put together an author box for the classroom!

1 comment:

Mary Lee said...

I, too, need to read backwards through O'Connor's novels to see what other gems I can find!