Written by L.L. Samson
Illustrated by Kris Nelson, Ben Fetterly, and Antonio Caparo
We have learned not to judge a book by its cover. Now we will learn not to judge a book by it style. When I began reading this book it was difficult to “get into”. The word choices and usage were odd. No, they were just different. I was ready to write it off as something that could not be used in a typical fourth grade classroom until I realized the brain pathway building potential of this little gem. While the above average reader may find this book intriguing, even an average student might struggle with comprehension without some scaffolding. But with any reader, new ideas and thought patterns will be created.
The storyline is actually quite interesting. Walter has recently moved from London to the United States where he now attends a boarding school for “the once well-heeled (wealthy) who’d fallen on harder times, or for those who had recently accumulated their wealth and were snubbed by the well-heeled. Walter and his friends have an amazing adventure with Tom Sawyer after Walter and his friends conjure up Tom in the enchanted circle in the “not so secret attic”. It was an amazing adventure sprinkled with a mad scientist, a hidden tunnel and plenty of mystery and drama.
Because the word style/choices are different, this book would make an excellent choice as a read aloud. Being able to hear the words should help students read them more easily as well as increase comprehension. One of my favorite things about the book is the generous sprinkling of vocabulary words throughout. After each potentially new word there is an easy to understand definition. Ascertain (figure out). There are also explanations about things such as a land grant (“A royal land grant is a big deal and normally includes more acreage than even the wealthiest of people own nowadays.”)
This book might possibly make an interesting choice for a literature circle choice. Even if the typical structure has to be modified to account for the more difficult comprehension issues, this book lends itself to discussion and out of the box thinking.