Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Birthday Surprises

I just wanted to do a quick blog post about this book, even though it is not especially new.  I was also not able to do an image of this book - my usual resources didn't include this book.  I read this book after seeing it recommended in Betsy Hearne's Choosing Books for Children (3rd edition).  It was a truly unusual book.

Hurwitz asked nine other children's authors to write stories with a specific plot device.  Each story is somehow written around a child who receives a present on their birthday - an empty box.  You would think that after reading a story or two, this plot device would get tired and that you would be able to anticipate what would happen.  But each author has a completely different take on that device - some take the empty box and interpret it one way, some another.  Sometimes the main character is likeable, sometimes not.  The stories are unpredictable and original.

This book would be excellent for reluctant readers.  The authors have a combination of main characters - younger, older, male, female.  This variety will keep boys and girls reading.  The fact that the stories are also relatively short is a plus too - the action has to unfold relatively quickly and the stories do not take long to read.  The authors Hurwitz produced are also all recognizable to children, which means that they are also more likely to try this book.
And these stories are thought-provoking as well.  What each child does with their empty box will allow teachers to use this book for discussion.  This book is well-written and will work for almost any student!

Birthday Surprises: 10 Great Stories to Unwrap.  Edited by Joanna Hurwitz.  Morrow Junior Books: 1995.  Borrowed from Helena School District Library.

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