Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Book Talk: Author Focus - Morris Gleitzman

If, for some horrible reason, I had to get rid of books by all authors but one in my classroom, I'd probably have to choose to keep Morris Gleitzman. He's been immensely popular in my classrooms, with both boys and girls, confident and less confident students. He writes books that are funny and books that are serious. He writes books with a wide range of characters. He keeps the students reading. And he wrote one of the funniest short stories I have ever read.

Morris Gleitzman was born in England and moved to Australia when he was around 16. He's been writing since the mid 80s and I read a lot of his books when I was at school. His books tend to be set in either England or Australia or both, though the acclaimed Once and Then do not. He might be a bit harder to find in the US, but would be completely worth trying! I'll highlight a few of them here:

Boy Overboard (and Girl Underground) - A lot of my students read this one in 2009. It's the story of Jamal and Bibi who live in Afghanistan and end up as illegal refugees heading towards Australia. Meanwhile, all they want to do is play in the World Cup. This is a highly popular book and a great introduction to the recent history of Afghanistan. My students tended to read it with Mahtab's Story by Libby Gleeson and one went on to read Breadwinner (Parvana in Australia) by Deborah Ellis as well.

Two Weeks with the Queen - One of those books I read when I was a kid and still a powerful read, which I realised when one of my less skilled readers went through it. Colin wants the Queen to help out because his brother is sick.

Blabber Mouth (and Sticky Beak) - More books that I read as a kid. I love Rowena, the character who is mute and just happens to have a deeply embarrassing father. Oh and she's just stuffed a frog into Darryn Peck's mouth.

Once and ThenOnce and Then - Set during the second world war, Once and Then are two books that tell the story of Felix who escapes from an orphanage to save his mother and father. A lot of adults I know who have read these books find them very difficult. But the students I had in 2009 just loved them and often recommended them to each other.

Toad Rage, Toad Heaven, Toad Surprise and Toad Away - I'm from Queensland. Our state Rugby League team is commonly known as the Cane Toads. In fact the ugly, poisonous cane toad is often associated with Queensland, mostly because it was imported to get rid of the cane beetle. Cane toads are often found lurking on concrete on summer nights around the spot where you want to put your bare foot down. Or flat on roads. So I had to include these books! The Toad books tell the story of Limpy the Cane Toad who is always on the search for meaning and knowledge.

Morris Gleitzman books often follow similar themes and some of their characters have obvious similarities, but I found this useful in the classroom because the students were able to discuss them with a good level of understanding. He also wrote Bits of an Autobiography I May Not Write for the Kids Night In book. If you can get your hands on this, I highly recommend it. The first time I read it out loud, I had to stop because I was laughing so much. Have a short taster here.

Gleitzman is working on a sequel to Once and Then, and I'm sure there's many many more books to come. In the meantime though, you may want to check out his website.

You can find more book talks here


A Reader's Community

My photo
Queensland, Australia
A Reader's Community is a place to find ideas, information, resources and recommendations about Reader's Workshop.

This Blog has five main types of posts.

About Reader's Workshop - information about Reader's Workshop in my classroom and how it works

Reader's Workshop Tools - resources you can access and use to help you with reader's workshop

Book talks - Book recommendations of two or three books centred around a particular theme

Book letters - in-depth reviews of one particular book

Reader's Workshop Links - Short links lists to help you find more information
Related Posts with Thumbnails