We sneak-peeked "The Boy Who Howled" on Amazon. I projected the book's beginning on the board. Right from the start, this novel captured my sixth graders' attention. When the excerpt ended, a loud united, "NOOOOOOOOO!" filled the room. They were hooked. I decided (had no choice!) to purchase a class set. When the novels arrived, it became clear that they would remain excited and captivated throughout the entire book. I knew my students would connect to and enjoy the humorous dialog, engaging imagery, and imaginative adventures of Callum the "salty lollipop." And this expectation was beyond realized. The characterization was fantastical, fun, strange, yet relatable. My students cared about Callum and both his families. They expressed anticipation for the ironic meeting between the extreme carnivore and his strict vegan twin sister. The chapters transition beautifully by means of setting and point of view, and the plot consistently intriguing and "just right" to follow. Connections sparked all over our classroom as my students noticed Mr. Power's accurate incorporation of wolf facts. (We studied, and continue to research endangered species.) They noted brilliant precise word choices that at times challenged my strategic and /or ELL readers who worked diligently and eagerly to accurately comprehend the text. Most questions generated from the text were surprisingly deep and "higher-level." Overall the vocabulary tied-in nicely with our classroom curriculum and goals to build this skill. As aspiring young writers, they savored and collected the literary devices that always fit the bill. All the while appreciating how the author cleverly weaved devices and the right amount of details. These they learned, and now witnessed firsthand, are vital tools for excellent, clear writing. They pointed out the subtle use of foreshadow and naturally noticed the intelligent humor (evidenced by their laughter). But the biggest and most priceless outcome from reading this new and fresh novel: three reluctant readers who swore their allegiance against fiction, found themselves hooked. They devoured the pages, loved the ending, and now want to know when Timothy Power will pen his next book.
~ Patricia Vega Sixth Grade Literature, Language Arts, Strategic Reading, ELL Teacher