Paul Fleischman

Picture Books
Lost!: A Story in String
Sidewalk Circus
Time Train

Big Talk: Poems for Four Voices
I Am Phoenix: Poems for Two Voices
Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices
Newbery Award 1989
Mind's Eye(novel)
Zap: A Play

The Borning Room
Bull Run
Coming-and-Going Men: Four Tales
Graven Images: 3 Stories
Newbery Honor 1983
The Half-A-Moon Inn
Mind's Eye
Rear-View Mirrors

Folk Tales
Dateline: Troy

Books Not Reviewed Yet
The Animal Hedge
Cannibal in the Mirror
Copier Creations
A Fate Totally Worse Than Death
Finzel the Farsighted
Path of the Pale Horse
Phoebe Danger, Detective, In the Case of the Two-Minute Cough
Townsend's Warbler

Fleischman is expert at finding the perfect words to create the mood, and he as written of an incredible variety of topics. So many of his books are nothing like the others. I have enjoyed his experimentation with different voices or styles as well.

Big Talk: Poems for Four Voices Candlewick Press: Cambridge, MA, 2000.

Poems about ordinary situations that become songs when read aloud together. An excellent tool for improving speech of young people.

The Borning Room
HarperCollins Publishers: NY, 1991.

The borning is used for 2 purposes: birth and death. Georgina recalls her life punctuated by the times the room was used. The span of her life is 1851-1918. She remembers some truly momentous occasions.
related-pioneer life, Ohio, fugitive slaves, birth, death, spirituality, diptheria, women's suffrage

Breakout Cricket Books: Chicago, 2003.

The story alternates between 2 times. Del has come of age in Los Angeles. She is leaving to find a new life, a new self. With her desire to be gone, she gets stuck in an all-day traffic jam. The highway slowly becomes a community before they are able to move on. In the second time period, Del is coming back to Los Angeles as a success. Her first show in LA is inspired by her traffic jam experience.

You can feel Del's impatience to leave the city and then her wonder at the life around her. It is a heartwarming story full of detail and passion.

Bull Run A Laura Geringer Book/HarperCollins Publishers: NY, 1993.

All but one of the 16 characters are fictional, but the background is factual. Each chapter is a diary account of the Civil War's first battle. Varying perspectives are given alternating between Northern and Southern. It is an excellent portrayal for deeper understanding of the Civil War and war in general. Not nearly as disturbing as The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, but still a very accurate depiction. It brings history to life, and it is an excellent resource for studying this period.

Coming-and-Going Men: Four Tales Harper & Row, Publishers: NY, 1985.

Here are four tales revolving around the town of Canaan, Vt in the year 1800. All four have travelling men who interact with citizens in the town. All four deal with superstitions of the time and changes that result from the interaction.

My oldest son (8th grade) really liked this book. I was surprised at his enthusiasm because it has quite a historical feel to it, and my son balks at reading history.

Dateline: Troy Candlewick Press: Cambridge, MA, 1996.

Next to each summary of events from Homer's Iliad Fleischman has placed newspaper clippings of modern events that parallel the story. The Iliad is brought to life in a way that touches our lives. Fleischman has made the story more accessible to readers, and the book can be used in both Literature and History lessons to deepen students' understanding of both the Iliad and war in general.
related-Troy, Iliad, Trojan War, war-WWI to Gulf War

Graven Images: 3 Stories A Charlotte Zolotow Book/Harper & Row, Publishers: NY, 1982.

These three short stories revolve around carved figures. They all have a historical feeling with superstitious people foolishly placing their faith in statues.

The first is a statue to which many tell their deepest secrets. The second is supposedly guiding a boy's courtship. The third is of an unusual request of a statue to be carved.

The stories are well-written and enjoyable although they have such a historical feel they seem a little strange.

The Half-A-Moon Inn
HarperCollins Publishers: NY, 1980.

Aaron's mother has gone to the market in town for the first time without him. When she doesn't come home as planned, he sets out to find her. He becomes lost in the woods. Upon reaching the Half-A-Moon Inn, he is held captive.

This is an odd, mysterious story of a rural area long ago. Aaron is for the first time seeing the world on his own. Being mute, he has some difficulty getting others to understand him. Odd coincidences result in a fitting resolution.
related-kidnapping, rural inn, physically handicapped

I Am Phoenix: Poems for Two Voices A Charlotte Zolotow Book/HarperCollins Publishers: NY, 1985.

Poems about birds to be read aloud with 2 people. Excellent for improving speech and can be fun to perform.

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices A Charlotte Zolotow Book/Harper & Row, Publishers: 1988.

Poetry about bugs may not sound very appealing, but these poems are meant to be shared aloud together. When spoken in the format it is written, it sounds beautiful.

Lost!: A Story in String il C. B. Mordan. Henry Holt and Company: NY, 2000.

A woman tells her granddaughter a story of a girl lost in a blizzard. She makes string pictures from her knitting yarn to accompany her story.

There are written and pictoral instructions at the end that explain how to do the string games, and the black and white etched drawings are stunning.
RL=2nd-3rd and read aloud

Mind's Eye Henry Holt and Company: NY, 1999.

Sixteen-year-old Courtney becomes paralyzed and is placed in a room with an old woman, Elva, who has poor sight. Elva determines that the best way to the leave the home will be with a journey through the mind. She wants to travel through Europe using an old travel guide, but she needs Courtney to take the journey with her because she cannot read the guide. Her travel plans are disrupted as Courtney uses the trip to vent her frustration and deal with her depression and anger. Though it isn't what Elva dreams, it is a meaningful experience nonetheless. The book is written for readers theater.

Rear-View Mirrors Harper & Row, Publishers: NY, 1986.

Olivia's father invites her to spend the summer at his home in a rural NH town-a "remarkable opportunity." Her parents divorced when she was 8 months old; they are as different as can be even living in opposite parts of the country.

Father and daughter are both unwilling to show their desire for acceptance as they prickle each other all summer. But true to his word, it is a remarkable opportunity to experience a whole new world and see life from a different point-of-view. The father wishes to pass on a legacy to the daughter he hasn't seen since she was a baby-if she will accept it.

The story takes place the next year-after his death-as she looks back at the previous summer and tries to fulfill a part of his legacy. It is an engrossing journey of discovery both inner and physical.

Saturnalia Harper & Row, Publishers: NY, 1990.

William is a Narraganset who was captured in a raid six years earlier and put to work as an apprentice to Mr. Currie, the printer. He has become part of the family and has excelled in the trade and his education which was generously provided by his master. Nevertheless, he has not stopped looking (but in secret) for his twin brother who was also captured in the raid. Mr. Baggot has vowed to catch him in some degree of misbehavior so that he will be punished (basically because he is a Narraganset). Mr. Hogwood tries to woo a wealthy widow with the help of his not-so-reliable servant. Mr. Speke grieves his daughter's death and is haunted by the memory of another girl. Mr. Rudd is stalked by a shadowy figure. The townsfolk go about their business mostly without being aware of each others' stories, and a different perspective of the Puritans' Indian wars is given.

Some of the parts of the book are very interesting. The storyline swiftly changes from one person to another which bothered me, but Fleischman has created a unique story with suspense and surprising onclusions.
related-colonial period, Narraganset, Boston(Mass.), apprentices, prejudice

Seedfolks Joanna Cotler Books/Harper Collins Publishers: NY, 1997.

A young girl plants seeds in an empty lot across from her city apartment to connect with a father she never knew. Slowly others in her community follow her example for their own reasons. Thirteen neighbors tell their own stories in this beautiful book. The gardening brings them together in a way nothing else would.
related-gardens, city life, neighborhood, diversity, community

Seek Cricket Books: Chicago, 2001.

Robert is assigned to write an autobiography for school. He decides to create a sound portrait of his life. As he is contemplating his life, he searches the radio for his father who he has never seen and is a DJ. He has a tape of one of his father's shows, so he listens for his name and sound. He increases the effectiveness of his search when he enlists his friends' help in performing a pirate DJ show.

The book is powerfully written. It is both comical and emotional. The readers theater style fits perfectly with the idea of flipping from station to station in his search.
related-radio, absent father, autobiography, single parent, grandparents

Sidewalk Circus il Kevin Hawkes. Candlewick Press: Cambridge, MA, 2004.

As two children(at different times) wait on a bench for the next city bus, watch workers and activity along the city street. They imagine the city dwellers as circus performers as they go about their tasks. Posters of a circus event a man is putting up and a theater marquee announce each act. Their shadows and actions mirror the posters.

This is one of my favorite Kevin Hawkes books. I love both the idea and the presentation. Watching people in a busy area can be quite entertaining, and this almost wordless book perfectly captures the concept. The shadowwork subtly emphasizes the children's imaginative perceptions. The pictures of the city life are art in themselves.

It is an imaginative and witty story told through the wonderful pictures and circus and market signs. Beautiful work!
related-circus, city and town life, stories without words, imagination, shadows, observation, people-watching
RL=toddler & up, all ages

*I find the subject matter highly appropriate for Kevin Hawkes because of his extensive use of shadow in his art.

Time Train il Claire Ewart. A Charlotte Zolotow Book/HarperCollins Publishers: 1991.

The class is going on a field trip. Their train is the Rocky Mountain Unlimited. The farther they travel, the farther back in time they go. The clever, detailed pictures are as much a part of the story as the simple prose.
RL=1st-2nd and read aloud

Weslandia il Kevin Hawkes. Candlewick Press: Cambridge, MA, 1999.

Wesley is not like the other neighborhood children. He enjoys school and creates his own learning projects in the summer. This year he has learned that every civilization has a staple crop, so he makes that his new project-cultivating a staple crop. Once the plants are producing, he finds many uses for his crop. The ideas expand until he has founded his own civilization.

It is a stimulating and thought-provoking book which hopefully will broaden children's minds and get their creative energies flowing. Let them see the possibilities of creating their own worlds or expanding upon this one-if not physically, then possibly through writing or another form of art. Teachers may wish to consider using this for a Social Studies lesson.

Two things drew me to this book: the pictures which are fantastic and that I had already read several of Fleischman's books.
RL=2nd-3rd and read aloud

Zap: A Play
Candlewick Press: Cambridge, MA, 2005.

Seven different plays in one with the illusion of the audience switching from play to play using remote controls-a great concept. The play has already been performed by high schools. Not all of the storylines are equally interesting, but I enjoyed the increasing chaos as the zapping continues.

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