All journeys have a starting place.
This is a weekly place to find books and tools
that you may use with readers
at the start of their independent reading journey.
Join in the conversation at #road2reading.
I've taught and worked with preK-4th grade learners and teachers for, well, let's just go with many years at this point.... And while all students, regardless of where they are in their learning, vary... and can vary a lot.... this remains especially true for our young readers.
Let's look at chapter books today. And let's look at 2 very different learners. I need chapter books that support 4th grade readers. For those kids who are ten years old, yet struggle with multisyllable words. For those readers who need a straight forward storyline that doesn't have a lot of information that must be inferred. Here's the problem. Those books often have characters that are clearly years younger than the reader and have problems that no longer apply to these readers. And... I need chapter books that support 1st grade readers. Those readers who have picked up reading quickly. They have stamina to be engrossed in their reading where they can read through multiple chapters and finish the book in days so that they hang on to the details of the book that happen across the story. Here's the problem. Those books need to have content that is ok for those readers.
Finding books like that can be very hard to find. Except for this one......
by Fred Koehler
published by Boyds Mills Press
I first heard about this book the summer of 2017 at an ALA breakfast hosted by publisher Boyds Mills. Fred started explaining this new chapter book series he had started working on and it sounded intriguing. I've read a bit about the Pacific Garbage Patch and using it as a setting sounded very intriguing. Here's more about this book:
Mr. Popli, the mouse mayor of Garbage Island, is always at odds with Archibald Shrew, a brilliant but reckless inventor. When Garbage Island, their home in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, splits apart, they are trapped together in Mr. Popli's houseboat, desperate to find their way back home. At first, they only argue, but when they face a perilous thunderstorm and a series of predators, they begin to work together and recognize - in themselves and in each other - strengths they didn't know they had.
This is a book that stretches across grade levels, reading maturity levels, and genders. It's a book you can give to many readers and they are all going to find something appealing about it. Maybe they will love the characters. Archie and Mr. Popoli are about as different as can be. Archie is always inventing and he does before he thinks. It's easy to like him because he is a flawed character. You can't help but want to help him. Mr. Popoli likes order and rules, yet even he proves to be a reliable friend. And Merri, the bird, is as loyal and steadfast as they come. Or maybe it's the adventure that will relate to readers. As soon as we know the characters, the nonstop action begins. Mr. Popoli and Archie find themselves on an adventure, that neither saw coming and although they know where they are going, it's the constant problems they run into that keep them always on the move. Or maybe it's the setting that will find the reader engrossed in this novel. After all, not too many books find themselves within the setting of a garbage patch!
Readers fall into the adventure right away in this book!
Accompanying this fantastic adventure are black and white illustrations by the author. I have long admired Fred Koehler's work (don't miss Flashlight Night or One Day, The End) and love that he's also included illustrations throughout the book. In full pages and sometimes even double layouts, his illustrations help bring Garbage Island to life in our mind's eye!
I am so excited for this book to be in classrooms and libraries. Not only will it have a long wait list, I think it makes for a perfect read aloud. Readers of all ages will fall in love with these unforgettable characters and crazy setting, but will need to buckle up for the adventure!
More about Fred Koehler
Fred Koehler won a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Award for his illustrations for One Day, The End. He is the author-illustrator of How To Cheer Up Dad, which received three starred reviews, and he is the illustrator of This Book Is Not About Dragons and Puppy, Puppy, Puppy and Flashlight Night. He lives with his children in Lakeland, Florida.
Be sure to visit the Boyds Mills' website and check out the discussion guide for Garbage Island.
Want to know more about the book? Don't miss the other stops on the blog tour:
Mon 10/1 Always in the Middle
Tue 10/2 Miss Marple’s Musings
Would you like to have a copy of Garbage Island for your library? Boyds Mills is generously giving away a copy of the book for one lucky reader (US/Canada only)! The giveaway will remain open through Oct. 17th. Make sure to enter - fingers crossed!
Do you work with readers who are starting their journey on the road to reading? Join Alyson Beecher from Kid Lit Frenzy and me every Thursday as we explore books and ideas to help readers have a successful start to independent picture book and chapter book reading. If you blog or have a Goodreads page, please link up with us!