Thursday, November 19, 2009

Author Visit and Book Review - Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different

Today the fourth and fifth graders at my school were lucky enough to have, as the kids say, "a real live author" come to visit. The author was Kristin O'Donnell Tubb. She has written several books for commercial characters (think ScoobyDoo, Bugs Bunny, Holly Hobbie), but also has a new book out that is all her own, Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different. She was great with the kids. She gave them several good revising strategies to use that will spice up their pieces. Not to mention she was also as cute as a button! Very stylish, but still in a down-to-earth way, you know? 

I ordered Autumn  when I first heard Mrs. Tubb was coming for a visit. The book tells the story of the founding of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a place almost everyone who lives in this part of the country has been at least once or twice in their life. The story is told through the eyes of an eleven year old girl named, you guessed it, Autumn Winifred Oliver. Her family lives in Cades Cove, Tennessee, a town where things never change. But changes are surely on the way. It seems the town will either be lost to loggers stripping the mountains, or to the "Not So" Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And Autumn and her family find themselves stuck right in the middle. You can read an excerpt here

I read this book over Fall Break and loved every bit of it. Here's why:
  • Some of the messes Autumn gets herself into are so hilarious they literally had me laughing out loud! From riding a coffin down a flooded river to using sticks to prop open the mouths of geese, she definitely does things different! 
  • The book is loaded with mountain culture, sayings, and superstitions. It reminded me a lot of Appalachia. Some of the stuff I actually had to look up because I had no clue what it meant. Like, did you know you weren't supposed to burn sassafras wood in your house? It's bad luck and means someone is probably going to die. (You better run straight home and throw out all that sassafras, ya hear?) I also had no idea what a dogtrot was. (Check out the picture at the bottom.)
  • Parts of the book made me cry. No, not cry. Sob. Openly. But in the good way, you know? I just felt so close to Autumn and her family that when they suffered, I experienced it to. I LOVE books that do that. A mark of a really good writer.
I read this book aloud to a group of fourth graders who read at a pretty advanced level. The dialect did make it kinda challenging, but fun to use for a read aloud. We did have to stop a lot to talk about a lot of the phrases and bits of culture that they(we) did not understand. What I ended up doing was having the kids take notes on the phrases or words that they did not understand or just plain liked. Every chapter or so we would stop and discuss. And then at the end of the book they will have a list of really neat phrases and words that they could borrow for their own pieces. The kids also laugh out loud at the book, even more than I did. They have started using "Autumn" phrases and commenting that they "do things different." It's always neat to watch them have fun with a book as a group. 

How'd you like to have a dogtrot in the middle of your house?

1 comment:

  1. glad to see you post again! i want to me a real live author teacher!!!haha!