Our Day 9 book, “Demolition” by Sally Sutton, is another rhyming book with a catchy hook; every rhyme ends with a three-word onomatopoeia for the activity taking place on the page. “Demolition” is actually one of three construction books by Sally Sutton – all of which follow the same rhyme-scheme and rhythm. Her storybook “Road Work” was a favorite of our youngest for a while. The title of tonight’s book was a little bit deceptive (but not in a bad way) – Ms. Sutton does show construction equipment tearing down a building, but her book is almost as much about recycling materials and building something new as it is about tearing things down.
In our extended read aloud time we began “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”. Honestly, while Tom Sawyer was a fun read, we really read that book so that we could read this one. The first chapter of “Huckleberry Finn” is a continuation of the last chapter of Tom Sawyer – except that while “Tom Sawyer” was told from a third-person point of view (Mark Twain narrating), “Huckleberry Finn” is narrated in the first person by Huck himself. This evening, we met a new and thoroughly unpleasant character in the world of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn: Huck’s good-for-nothing father. Huck’s father is an abusive alcoholic who, while unsuccessful in wresting Huck’s fortune away for himself, has now kidnapped Huck and is holding him prisoner in a cabin several miles up the river from town. We have also met the other major character in the book – besides Huck: Jim, an adult slave who lives in Huck’s town, and who will be spending much of the book travelling along the Mississippi river with Huck.
We can already tell that “Huckleberry Finn” will present some challenges for read-aloud. The first is that the first-person perspective means that I am reading in a southern accent through the entire book – both narration and dialogue. The second, and perhaps more challenging, is the increased frequency of the “n” word. This word, while an accurate representation of how people talked in the antebellum South, is jarring to say and hear; I will admit to having inserted alternate phrasing several times already. However, one of the reasons we like to read aloud as a family is so that we can talk together about some of the heavier subjects that come up in good books. Tom Sawyer spurred a discussion about the death penalty last night, and I am sure Huckleberry Finn will present an invitation to discuss slavery and racism – even if I continue to make substitutions for that particular word.