Midway through last week we had a little investigation on the silver and golden coloured stickers that are sometimes on the front of books. We found out that these stickers are often from the Children’s Book Council Awards, or the Caldecott Medal, who both give awards to books of outstanding literary quality. We checked on our classroom library shelves, and found we had quite a few novels and picture story books with award stickers.
Later that day, we talked about giving books a chance. Reading something that has a ‘boring’ looking cover, has a ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ cover, by an author we don’t know or one that’s from a genre that we don’t usually read.
And that, is how we came across Once.
Once is written by renowned Australian author, Morris Gleitzman. Gleitzman often writes on some sensitive topics, but with his unique style, manages to inject these topics with appropriate humour and themes of kindness, friendship and love.
Once is an historical fiction novel based around the Holocaust. It tells the story of 10 year old Felix who is searching through Poland for his parents. Just like Gleitzman’s other novels, Once has appropriate, subtle humour and themes of friendship, hope, kindness and love. However, as it’s a Holocaust book, there are also some not so nice parts. Yes, characters die in this book.
We began reading Once for no other reason than to practise giving books a chance and to practise effective listening. We talk about the events in the book, sharing our knowledge, correcting misconceptions, questioning, sharing thoughts. We talk about the history of the Holocaust, we talk about Nazis, about WW2, Poland, Germany, Concentration Camps. Sure, they’re not nice topics, but they’re important topics. They’re part of history and history needs to be talked about, shared and remembered. In a supportive environment. Like our classroom.
Here is a link to Gleitzman’s website. Click on the picture to head there.
There are also lots of reviews on the net if you’d like to read how children respond to this book.
5C, what do you think of Once so far?