Thursday, March 5, 2015

Bad Bye, Good Bye by Deborah Underwood

Bad Bye, Good Bye by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Jonathan Bean
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Rating: 4 stars

My kids' school has assemblies on most Friday mornings. The kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and third grade classes take a turn presenting to the rest of the school about some topic of interest. There's a wide variety, of course; over the years I've watched speeches about important African American, the concept of Venn diagrams (with two kids holding hula hoops--it was so cool), and plays about impact versus intent. I'm amazed at how often these little skits stay alive through conversations with my kids.

One of the most memorable was a presentation about inferring. The Infer Song encourages kids to be "book detectives" and look for clues in the pictures and text. Click HERE for a video and for the words. 

And, even if you don't click THERE, you know what inferring is and how important it is while reading. After this class's presentation, all the kids did, too. least the ones paying attention. And I'm guessing you do this at home (or in your class) with your kids already.

This is one of the steps of reading: looking at the pictures and inferring what's going on. Kids can guess what the words are by using their eyes and brains as a team to figure it out. This process can and should start really young. And it continues with little and big chapter books.

I bring this up with Bad Bye, Good Bye because it is a picture book with a lot going on: it has a heavy story line but very few words. I counted: only 80 words! Deborah Underwood has created a sparsely-worded story about a family moving, and the emotions that come with moving.

The rest is left to Jonathan Bean, one of my favorite illustrators. He fills in the gaps with rich pictures jam-packed with action and emotion. The words don't take long to read, but my kids and I lingered for minutes on each two-page spread to talk about and figure out what was going on. We needed to infer the action from the pictures. There were some clues in the text, but the bigger clues lay waiting in the illustrations.

As someone who moved every two to three years as a kid with my Army family, this book definitely struck a chord with me. My parents (who read each and every blogpost--aren't they great?) can correct me if my memory is wrong, but I don't remember ever sobbing or throwing a tantrum when the movers came like the boy and girl do in this book. I do remember being sad--the hardest move for me (you'll laugh) was when we moved from Georgia to Hawaii. The decision came early, and my sister and I were fully entrenched in a barn in Savannah, so paradise didn't look so great to us.

Like the boy and girl in the book, though, our perspective gradually changed. I love how the kids in this book show how upset they are--they cry and look so sad! But, once the tears stop, they manage to enjoy themselves on the drive to their new home. And they arrive with an explosion of emotions: fear, curiosity, excitement, and finally...contentment.

This is an unusual book, but an important one to remember if your family is moving, or if you just want to sing the infer song and practice it a little!

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