Laurel Snyder has written several books; Penny Dreadful is the most recent. But on September 27, her latest book, Bigger Than a Breadbox, will be released. Recently on Twitter, she offered to do a free Skype visit with people who might be interested. I absolutely wanted this opportunity for my students, so I signed up. I love that an author will be joining us and sharing about herself as a writer!
But, I committed to this experience before I had even read Bigger Than a Breadbox, and I worried a little about the fact that it might not be a good read for me; I know how important my investment in a book is when I read aloud to my students. Well, consider my concerns ridiculous!! Laurel Snyder's publisher sent an ARC that I received this past week, and I read it all in one sitting Monday. I couldn't put it down. What an amazing story!!
The main character, Rebecca, is the narrator of the story. Her mom makes the decision to take Rebecca and her little brother, Lew, from their home in Baltimore to Atlanta to stay with their grandmother for an indefinite period of time. Rebecca's mom and dad have been arguing and Mom has decided she needs a break from her husband. Rebecca loves her grandmother, but Atlanta isn't her home and from day one, she is constantly trying to get back to her real home and her dad in Baltimore.
The theme of "be careful what you wish for" is important to the story. Rebecca thinks she wants/needs certain things, but finds out that getting each of those items comes with a tremendous cost.
There are so many layers to this book for discussion. Feeling invisible, children caught in situations when parents aren't getting along, being the new kid at a school, trying to fit in, magic wishes, how difficult it can be to do the right thing, sometimes the things we wish for came at someone else's expense. The list goes on and on. But Laurel Snyder weaves these important topics together seamlessly. Add to this, the fact that she blends in lyrics from a Bruce Springsteen song - I was totally hooked!
I think I'll have to gather some google images of breadboxes to build background knowledge for my students since that is such an integral part of the story. Plus, it will help them understand the gorgeous art on the front cover of Bigger Than a Breadbox.
Our visit with Laurel is one of the first weeks in November. I can't wait to first share Bigger Than a Breadbox with both of my classes, and then to Skype with Laurel! As my students track their thinking in their read aloud notebooks, I am sure they will develop many questions they want to ask about the story, some of the characters, some of Rebecca's actions, and in particular, the breadbox. I will make sure to blog about the experience afterward. I'm really looking forward to all of it!!!