Published: 2009 as an audiobook compilation
Genre: children’s chapter book fiction
Length: all four book combine into 416 pages
Setting: Mrs. Pidgeon’s second grade class, no specific time period beyond something relatively current
Interest: I was looking for a seven-hour audiobook for a trip to another gymnastics meet. This was the perfect length and I’ve loved the other books by Lowry we’ve read (including The Giver and Number the Stars), so I figured this was a safe bet.
Summary: In the first book, Gooney Bird is introduced to Mrs. Pidgeon’s second grade class. Gooney Bird is quite unique, with her style of dress, strong but polite opinions on many topics, and an interesting history. She tells stories which sound very exotic (she came from China! and has a diamond ring from the palace!) but each time her completely true story has a more mundane, but still enjoyable source. She teaches her classmates how to tell their own interesting stories.
In the second book, the class needs to come up with and perform a Thanksgiving show. They also need to find a Room Mother to provide cupcakes and lemonade for the families that attend the show. No parent is willing to be Room Mother until Gooney Bird gets the brilliant idea to ask Mrs. Pidgeon’s mother to be Room Mother. She agrees, but asks to keep her identity secret until the performance. Gooney Bird is also instrumental in teaching the class how to use a dictionary to look up new words.
In the third book, the class is learning about fables and how to figure out the moral of the story. Gooney Bird comes up with the suggestion that everyone pick an animal with the same initial as their name and write a fable about that animal. Everyone is happy except for Nicholas. Nicholas can’t come up with an N animal until Gooney Bird finds out why he’s upset and provides some assistance.
In the final book, the class is learning about poetry and practicing writing different types of poetry. We also find out Mrs. Pidgeon’s mother is ill and dies. The class writes and performs a poem in many voices to help Mrs. Pidgeon feel better.
Final thoughts: I loved these books and they were perfect for the trip since I only had Miss Adventure with me and not Mr. Curiosity. The books are meant for a younger audience so Mr. Curiosity may not have enjoyed them as much as Miss Adventure and I did.
Gooney Bird is such a unique character. She’s definitely in the “I don’t care what others think” category, and often helped her classmates realize that your own opinion is more important than other’s opinions in most cases. She definitely sounds much more mature than your average second grader, but she’s so fun the reader doesn’t mind. We get to learn about many of Gooney Bird’s classmates throughout the series. In the first book, they tend to play a fairly one-dimensional role in the classroom, but that role expands throughout the series. I also like how each book teaches a skill with examples, mistakes, and revisions, while still providing an amusing plot. I might need to incorporate some regular poetry into our homeschooling, based on the last Gooney Bird book.
As an aside, the reading was delightful, with definite voices for each of the characters.
Title comes from: The book is a collection of the Gooney Bird series
Reading challenges fulfilled: #22 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge
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