Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Snook Alone

When I attend NCTE (or any other convention) and I walk into the exhibit hall, I always tend to avoid the "glitzy," "come-and-try our program," or "free (but really not worth carrying home) teaching ideas" booths.  I tend to hit my favorite exhibitors, one of which is Candlewick Press.  I tend to spend a lot of time in the booths that sell real literature without the hype.  And, I always leave Candlewick with new titles I can't wait to share with my students and family. 
     One of the books I chose this year was Snook Alone by Marilyn Nelson.  The reason?  It is illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering and he is one of my favorite artists and illustrators.  I find something magical and inviting about his illustrations.  They are so captivating!  He's not only an amazing illustrator, but a fine artist (check out his website and look at his oil of Moby Dick... wow!).  There is something that draws me to his illustrations and when I saw the dog on the cover of Snook Alone, I knew I had to add it to my collection (and the salespeople at Candlewick Press are always gracious in their commitment to putting fine books into the hands of teachers and children).
     Written by poet Marilyn Nelson, Snook Alone was the book I used to begin a study of Asking Questions last week.  It was the perfect book to use as a think aloud to get children's minds thinking about asking questions as we read.  In the book, a monk named Abba Jacob lives on an island with his loyal terrier, Snook.  All day and into the night, Snook and Abba work together, until they are separated by a devastating storm.  When they are separated, Snook longs to hear the voice of his friend Abba again.  It's a wonderful and thought-provoking tale of friendship, loss, and endurance.  It makes for a great think aloud!  It's provocative and beautifully written.  It's lyrical and challenging.  It's emotional and poetic.  The line, "In the morning there were only faint sips of his friend's scent left for Snook to drink in  here and there," blew me away!  It's a wonderful story of friendship. 
     Snook Alone was such a lovely NCTE surprise for me to find! 

By the way... 
     I used Timothy Basil Ering's book (you just have to type out his full name) Necks Out for Adventure to begin our school year.  Not only is he a wonderful illustrator, but a superb writer as well.  We read this book the first week of school and several times since... it focused our year on risk-taking, endurance, problem solving, and wise decision making.  Now my students and I talk a lot about "Are you sticking your neck out?"  It's almost become a moniker for our work together this year... a wonderful tale as well!

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