Acampora, Paul. How to Avoid Extinction. New York: Scholastic Press, 2016
I am still making my way through the stack of books I purchased at the Texas Book Festival last fall. It is here that the Texas Library Association announces their annual Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List. I wanted to make the live announcement, but was too late. I was not too late to pick up a copy of the new list. Towing my very patient husband in my wake, I hurried over to the book tent to look at the books on the list. I selected this one. It looked fun.
It was a fun and unexpected book. What would you do, if your Grandma decides to hop in her 1973 Buick Electra and make an unexpected road trip? She wanders regularly and you are her appointed finder. This is an irregular wander, even for Grandma, what would you do? What if your Mom has become the “official head of household as well as President, Principal, Queen, and Savior” (this means she is more bossy than usual)? If you are Leo, you unhappily obey your Mom, grab your backpack, hop into that 1973 Buick Electra, and reluctantly have an adventure with your Grandma, Abbey, your third cousin once removed, and Abbey’s aged dog, Kermit.
What prompts this sudden road trip? Unfortunately, it was a death, the death of Leo’s extraordinary grandfather. A year before this book begins, Leo’s grandfather dies unexpectedly. He was a strong leader in their family, loving, free spirited, intrepid, wise, and smart. His passing left a large void in the lives of those he left behind. Leo and his Mom have always lived with his grandparents. When Pop passed away, Mom assumed the mantle of head of household as described above. Grandma is lonely, Leo is mopey, and Leo’s Mom is suffering in her own way.
Before he died, Leo’s Grandpa was planning a road trip to the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry near Price, Utah. Grandma decides she needs to follow his path. As with many good books, everyone in the story discovers something about themselves and others. What does Leo discover about his family? Does he learn how to avoid extinction? Please pick up a copy of this charming book, read it for yourself, and recommend it to someone else who might enjoy it.
I really liked this book. In January 2019, students in grades 3-6 all over Texas will vote for a book on this year’s master list to be the winner. I hope many of them decide this was a good book and vote for it. When I was looking for the link to this year’s Texas Bluebonnet list, I read about the goals of the program. One goal is to encourage students to read for pleasure. My parents were readers and they encouraged me to read. I read all the time. I like to think that I became an excellent and passionate reader, because of their encouragement and my continuous practice. This week I am attending a workshop on literacy for students with complex communication needs. One of the big ideas this week is that all students can be readers. To be a reader, however, a student needs to read. We want students to enjoy reading. It is crucial to developing their reading skills. To enjoy reading, students need to be able to select what they want to read be it books, magazines, comic books, graphic novels, websites…anything as long as it interests them. Help the children in your life love reading. Suggest books, like How to Avoid Extinction, but let them choose!