Our Somewhat Wacky (but WONDERFUL!) Read-Aloud

Last time we were at the bookstore I started looking through all the books in the Newberry Award section. We had a few extra dollars on a gift card and I thought it would be fun to purchase a completely random read-aloud for us. Normally our books go along with our curriculum, but with the holidays approaching I just wanted something fun for us to devour. I must say - I made GOOD PICK!

I could tell you all about the book, but I found a great site - The Children's Book Almanac - that does a wonderful job:

William Waterman Sherman, the protagonist of the Newbery Medal book The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois, has been teaching arithmetic to boys for forty years in San Francisco: “Forty years of spitballs. Forty years of glue on my seat.” So at the age of sixty-six, he retires, builds a hot-air balloon, and sets off to sail around the world.

But as he soon discovers, being airborne produces other problems besides spitballs. Seagulls start to eat on his balloon and create a huge hole. After he plummets into the sea, he finds shelter on an island beach. This is not just any island, but the remarkable island of Krakatoa, built on the wealth of massive diamond mines. The island seems like paradise: the residences have constructed amazing homes, each one organized around the architecture of a different county, and filled them with conveniences. Their beds, for instance, have sheets that mechanically change every day and get washed, dried, and pressed. After a life of service, the professor might well have lived a life of luxury. But as is always true, timing is everything—because he has landed three days before a volcano erupts on the island of Krakatoa. Science, invention, fantasy, science fiction, and action all come together in a book that moves from one amazing plot detail to another.

So if you want to read a ripping- good story, pick up The Twenty-One Balloons. Even if it doesn’t change your life, it will certainly keep you engaged with its humor and panache.

The book has tons of possibilities for extending learning - we have looked up the entire history of Krakatoa and the eruption in the late 1800s. Very interesting. We have been researching hot air balloons and diamonds. We used our new National Geographic Atlas app on the iPad to look up all the countries talked about in the book. Someone mentioned making our own volcano, which I hope to do in the next couple of weeks!

What I love is that this book appeals to both my nine and six year olds -- the zany personality of William Waterman Sherman makes my little guy laugh, and my daughter just appreciates the clever, intricate writing.

If you want to know more about the book - check out this storyboard/Flash animation for the book. Apparently someone has the rights to turn it into a movie - I can't wait!

This post is linked to The Hip Homeschool Hop and Teach Me Tuesday - I think Tuesdays are my favorite blog reading day because there are so many ideas floating around. Visit each of these sites to get your brain moving!