Saturday, October 16, 2010


I stumbled onto TUTUS AREN'T MY STYLE on Thursday afternoon. I was visiting a first/second grade class and arrived just in time for read aloud. One of the children had chosen TUTUS AREN'T MY STYLE from a rack of new books that Mrs. J had checked out from her public library. I glanced at the cover, and then at my audience of very wiggly boys and thought, "Uh-oh." I scanned the shelf for other options, and picked up a couple, only to have the class inform me that they had already heard those. Giving a little mental sigh, I sat down in the chair, preparing for a read aloud disaster (ok, so to those of you who are still reading, and are making judgments about pseudo administrators who sigh when they have to read to kids- I love, love, love, love, love reading aloud. If someone told me that I could spend my life traveling from venue to venue reading, I would be a happy woman. And I'm generally pretty good at picking out perfect books for different audiences. I rarely read aloud books that I have not already read myself. Or books that I don't like. And yes, I know that books can be read and enjoyed more than one time).

Anyway, back to TUTUS--
Emma, clad in red cowboy boots, is hunting for bugs and pirate treasure in the front yard, when when the mailman delivers a package from her favorite uncle. She opens it to discover a frilly pink ballet costume. Emma has never really viewed herself as a ballerina, but wants to please Uncle Leo, so with a little advice from the mailman, as well as a neighbor walking her dogs, she takes on this new challenge. With an Emma-ish twist.

The results are predictable. First Emma, accompanied by the family cat, tries dancing outside, but crashes into a flowerbed. Ballet is supposed to be accompanied by music, so Emma gets out her kazoo, which unfortunately (though much to the delight of my seven and eight-year-old audience) sounds a little like burping. When Uncle Leo arrives, Emma is less than prepared to put on a performance…But, as you might expect, there's a really fun twist to the ending…

When we are done with the read aloud, Mrs. J asks if I will review story elements. We use "superstar comprehension" to run through the basics- character, setting, problem, and solution, and then because I am always curious about what children take away from books (and I'm totally fine if all they take away is a great story), I ask kids about the theme or life lesson. "You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit!" suggests the burly, football playing E-man. "When someone gives you a present, even if it isn't what you wanted, you are supposed to be grateful," says A., who is supposedly one of the lowest readers in the class. "Everybody doesn't have to dance the same or be the same," declared the spectacled, serious Miss C.

A really fun read with some pretty great life lessons!

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