Thomas and I love reading together before he goes to bed each night. He's a willing participant, so I rather enjoy introducing him to some of my favorite childhood books. We recently finished reading The Sign of the Beaver and we were looking at the book shelf to make our next choice. He pulled Old Yeller by Fred Gipson from the shelf. It was an old copy that my mom gave us years ago.
I've seen the movie but I had never read book before. My mom reads it to her third grade class every year and has told me lots of stories about how her students get caught up and emotionally invested in the story. Thomas and I decided to make it our next read.
I was immediately impressed by how well Gipson gets the readers completely immersed in the story and invested in the characters. The story includes all things that we love about stories : adventure, drama, emotion, tragedy and love. Thomas was enamored and usually begged for a second chapter each night. It is also a great book to read aloud--the language flows smoothly and sounds authentic to a young narrator.
Thomas and I discussed the characters and the story. He made some really interesting comments and I was fascinated by the way his mind works and his ability to connect with the story and his experiences. We decided that the five year old Arliss reminded us of my nephew Remington. Remington is always catching critters. Every time I see him, he has a little snake in his hands. I don't know how he manages to find one everywhere he goes. I was excited to see that my nephew Remington just got his own puppy to love.
Last night we read the last few chapters of Old Yeller cuddled on my bed. Before long all the kids had gathered and were immediately intrigued by the story. The ending is emotional and heartbreaking (who doesn't cry at the end of Old Yeller?!) but there is also a healthy period of mourning and then the hope for a brighter and happier future. I really loved the advice offered my the father to the devastated boy who had lost his beloved companion.
Old Yeller by Fred Gipson proved to be a great reading experience for Thomas and me. I would definitely recommend it. We will watch the movie tonight and see if it lives up to the book and then we will check out our book shelves and choose our next adventure together.