Thursday, July 24, 2008


This week, in my ongoing effort to complete my spring cleaning, organize my office, and prepare for the coaching class I will teach in August, I have also read two new books by one of my most favorite authors- Ralph Fletcher.

1) THE SANDMAN- Ralph's newest picture book. "Tor is a tiny man, no more than five inches high, but he has a big problem. Tor can't fall asleep at night." One day, while he is walking in the woods, Tor finds a dragon's scale. He takes it home, and soon discovers the dust from the scale is the answer to his sleeping problems. 

A great take on the legend of the Sandman. Fletcher's poetic command of language is always reflected in his picture books, and this one is no different. A perfect aloud for a unit on folklore or an author study; also a GOODNIGHT MOON kind of bedtime read aloud. 

This story is enhanced by Richard Cowdry's illustrations. I especially loved the first page. Tor is riding through the woods in his cart with wheels made of buttons, while a raccoon, rabbit, and three different birds, probably ten times his size, watch over him. I also loved the pictures of dragons, with their very realistic scales!

Next, I read Ralph's newest novel, ONE O'CLOCK CHOP, this week. Matt is a fourteen-year-old ready all set for a typical summer- he has a job on a clam boat, and wants to make enough money to buy a Boston Whaler.  Things change a little when his cousin Jazzy, who lives in Hawaii, comes to visit. Although Matt and Jazzy are first cousins, their relationship quickly becomes romantic…

This is a quick read and as always, Fletcher is a masterful writer. Some things I loved about this book:
• Great characters- I especially liked Dan, the Vietnam vet who owns the clam boat. I also loved Jazzy- Yeah, she's cute, but also smart, and musical, and athletic. What a great role model for our middle school girls!
• Plausible problems- falling in love (complicated by the fact that Jazzy and Matt are cousins), kids dealing with divorce, relationships
• Interesting twists and turns- even people who fish will be shocked by what Matt pulls up one day
• Fast paced
I love that Fletcher has such a wide range of writing- I can definitely imagine handing this book to a middle schooler who knows Ralph's other novels- FIG PUDDING, SPIDER BOY, FLYING SOLO, UNCLE DADDY or MARSHFIELD DREAMS- from his younger years.


Stacey Shubitz said...

I just heard him speak, but haven't read his books yet. Thanks for the meaningful reviews.

Mary Lee said...

An award for you, Carol: