Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Stories Julian Tells

by Ann Cameron, illustrated by Ann Strugnell. Knopf, 1981.

This time of year we start to get a lot of talk about summer reading lists. What are you recommending? I am gathering my own list of beginning readers, story collections and preschool age story books, thinking ahead to extra time cuddling with my sons and reading the afternoons away. Today I picked up The Stories Julian Tells to peruse while waiting for my next class to come to the library. It's one that causes me to laugh out loud even in the quiet library.

Julian is a boy with a big imagination and a quick wit. His little brother Huey is the perfect foil for all his exploits, and together they get in and out of trouble on every page. When their father makes a special lemon pudding for their mother, saying it will taste like "a whole raft of lemons. It will taste like a night on the sea" Julian and Huey are set to guard it while he takes a nap. It is too good to resist tasting, however, and they boys end up shivering under the bed waiting for him to wake up and discover what happened. Fortunately their father knows just how to encourage them to replenish the supply.

In another chapter their father decides to order a garden catalog and teach them about growing vegetables Julian teaches Huey about the garden cats that come from catalogs. Once again their father is able to bring that around to a clever and satisfying resolution.

These stories are highly recommended by Jim Trelease in his Read Aloud Handbook, and for good reason. They are written on about a second grade level, so if your early elementary child is looking for some good independent summer reading it might work well for that too. There are seven books in the series all about the Bates family and their friends and neighbors. Ann Cameron says,
"I always thought of Julian as Everychild, having experiences that belong to children the world over. Julian, his brother Huey, and his friend Gloria are African-American children, but the text never says so. This book has a richness of language that children love, and its black-and-white drawings--by the artist Ann Strugnell--are some of the most beautiful I've ever seen in a children's book. "
Cameron has a web page with links to her philosophy of literacy and teaching reading, suggestions for teachers and parents, and stories from her own life. She tells about the library in Guatemala that she helped rebuild in the 22 years she lived there. It's really fascinating reading, and filled with lovely pictures.

If you want funny stories about clever, loving, strong children who are full of wonder and delight, check out The Stories Julian Tells.


Mary Lee said...

I am a TOTAL Ann Cameron fan! If you love Julian, read on...he has a couple of books, Huey has a couple of books, and Gloria even gets to star, too! It's a nice little mini-series, and for work with older readers, Cameron gives us some nice short texts (chapters can stand alone like short stories) to study. You found a gem!

Saints and Spinners said...

I have been craving that lemon pudding ever since I first read about it.

I've been meaning to tell you-- I'm on a gluten-free diet for three months. Last night, I tried Bard's Tale sorghum beer. It's quite nice! Do you know about it?

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Yes - I want some of that pudding too! I haven't tried any gf beer yet. I'll put that on my list for summertime porch afternoons - good tip!

I think you are right Mary Lee, the chapters would be great for older readers to study for structure, characterization, etc. and model in their own writing. Good material for reader's and writer's workshop minilessons.

ElsKushner said...

Oh, this book brings back memories! I learned the pudding story by heart for a storytelling class, a long time ago.

Now that I think of it, it would be a great read-aloud for 2nd grade to finish up the year with. Thanks for the reminder!