Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I volunteer every Wednesday in Maya's class for 1 1/2 hours during their literacy block. Today her teacher asked me to read a book aloud to four of the kids. They were on the final two chapters of a book called Stone Fox. Stone Fox is a Native American man who has won the same dog sled race every year that he has entered. The story is told in third person with Little Willy as the main character; he is 10 years old and has a beloved dog named Searchlight.

[Spoilers ahead, for those of you who haven't read this book]

When I began the last two chapters, Willy and Searchlight are racing in the annual dog sled race that Stone Fox always wins, and they are ahead of everyone. There is some business with Willy's grandpa getting out of bed to watch the race, so I inferred that the grandpa must be ill, which is why Willy is racing so hard.


Let me tell you: the teacher could have warned me how this books ends. I started to have one of the kids read, and as she was reading, I saw she was actually reading about Searchlight's sudden and unexpected death! I stopped her, so I could read it because I thought, how lovely...have the kid read about the dog dying.

So here I am, 37 years old, reading aloud to 1st and 2nd graders, trying not to cry as Little Willy holds his dog, who has collapsed from an exploding heart. Stone Fox ends up not being so stone afterall, as he does a very noble act to allow Little Willy and Searchlight to win the race. I was all wavery voiced, as we finished. One little girl was wiping tears from her eyes. It was so SAD! I only read two chapters; I can't imagine what it is like to read the whole book only to have the damn dog drop dead mere feet from the finish line.

It was a good book, though, from what I read; I kow Maya loved the book when her group was reading it.

I love sad books, though. Two of my favorite sad children's novels are:

I remember reading Where The Red Fern Grows to Brittani and Paige when they were about 8 & 10, and I was bawling and snotting all over the place, as we got to the end. It is such a beautifully sad book.

Bridge to Terabithia is extremely sad, too, because it deals with the sudden and unexpected death of a best friend, and we get to see the boy in the story go through the stages of grief. Heartwrenching.

I've read both books to Maya...with a big box of Kleenex at my side. She cried at the end of Bridge to Terabithia, but I think she was a little young to get what happened in Where the Red Fern Grows. She was 4 or 5 at the time. Maybe I'll read it to her again.

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