Saturday, March 17, 2012

Book #77: George Shrinks by William Joyce


Image from HarperCollinsChildrens.com
I’ve been thinking of books that feature miniature people ever since the Studio Ghibli film, The Secret World of Arrietty, was released. Based on the book, The Borrowers, by Mary Norton, the film follows the story of a tiny girl and her friendship with a human-sized boy. George Shrinks is great for younger children who aren’t yet ready to read Norton’s book or have it read to them.

One day George dreams that he’s shrunk and when he wakes up his dream has come true! His parents are gone for the morning, so they leave him a list of things to do with his younger brother. Now that he’s barely 6 inches high, George has to get creative to complete his chores. George is having a terrific game of cat and mouse with an actual cat when his parents come home. Just as his parents walk into the room, George finds he’s become his regular size again, just in time.

The brief text is made up of the letter George’s parents leave for him. In fact, there are a few pages that are completely wordless. The illustrations are detailed and tell a story of their own beyond the text. George has a rampant imagination that allows him to have adventures while completing his chores. For instance, he washes the dishes by sledding on a soapy sponge.

After you read the book ask the kids what they would do if they woke up and were 6 inches high. What would be the good parts about being that small? The bad parts? Would they be able to complete all their normal chores like George does? Another question to ponder, although we’ll never know the answer, is whether George actually shrunk or if he was imagining he was small the whole time. Ask the kids what they think and why. If you’re in a classroom setting either of these discussion questions can easily be turned into a writing exercise.

You may also be familiar with George Shrinks TV Show. Check out the George Shrinks PBS Kids Go! website for games, puzzles, and other adventures.

-Amy

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