Saturday, September 14, 2013

Love letter for Teachers

THE SURPRISE ATTACK OF JABBA THE PUPPET by Tom Angleberger. Amulet, 2013.

THE SURPRISE ATTACK OF JABBA THE PUPPET is part of a series of books. If you do not know this series, please remedy that immediately. Start with the first book, THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA and work your way up to this latest entry. Angleberger has written about his usual cast of eccentric characters in a form and format that belies the reading and lexile levels assigned to the book (of course. The books are in the 700 band; the levels hover in the 4.5 range for the series). In this book, Dwight and his friends decide to push back against the new curriculum in their school, FUNtime, a program designed to increase scores on the state and national tests. The program features a singing calculator, a dancing thesaurus, and idiotic songs and mnemonic devices. Angleberger skewers the nonsense taking place in schools across the nation right now. Moreover, he shows how kids are aware of all the stupidity being done in the name of test scores: removal of electives, the arts, etc. Kids love this series. One of the chief reasons is that the characters resonate as REAL. Moreover, many of them are the marginalized kids, the ones who are pushed out for one reason or another. Angleberger gives them one another for support and encouragement though there is still some conflict among them. These kids exist in our classrooms, and now they have a voice in this series.

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