While in flush times the library system ordered new books just for the summer program, now they are pulling from previous titles to make the suggested reading list. This works out for me, because I’ve read and booktalked many of these selections before.
One that jumped out at me as a favorite was The Gum-Chewing Rattler, written by Joe Hayes and illustrated by Antonio Castro L. I love this book, from its engaging cover of the snake blowing a bubble to the last page, where the artist describes his technique in capturing his realistic subjects. An older man is telling a bunch of kids a story from back-in-the-day. He always was chewing gum, and always kept spares in his front pocket — even though that practice wreaked havoc on the laundry. One day in the desert he stepped on a rattlesnake and that gum saved his life in a tale that no one can believe. This is a great picture book for a past-preschool crowd. I’ve read it to a third grade class and they loved it. In fact, they might have been the first grade to really get it for the modern tall tale that it is. The pictures are very realistic in style and capture the feeling of the book, amusing and fun.
In my younger-grade booktalk, I’ll pair this title with Lisa Jo Rudy’s Snakes! Maybe I’ll bring in a rubber snake prop. I’m also looking at sharing Bats at the Beach because it’s such a fun summer story. I’m also drawn to the sweetness — plus bonus origami! — of Lissy’s Friends. It’s exciting to be thinking about this again.
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