Reviews for Gooney Bird Greene


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 September 2002
Gr. 2-5. Veteran author Lowry produces a laugh-out-loud chapter book with a lead character who could easily be the younger sister of Spinelli's Stargirl (2000). Gooney Bird appears in Mrs. Pidgeon's second-grade class one October, asking for a desk "right smack in the middle of the room" because she likes to be in the middle of everything. She dresses the part, too: it's pj's and cowboy boots that first day, green stretch pants, a polka-dot T-shirt, and a tutu the next. And she loves to tell stories, every bit of them "absolutely true," from the tale of how she got her name to how she got her diamond earrings (gumball prizes) from the prince. The tales themselves, about moving, pets, and neighbors, are multilayered. They not only amuse but also illustrate characteristics of good storytelling. Before she's done, our heroine has even found ways to elicit stories from her classmates, from silent Felicia Ann to twitchy Barry. Quite a debut. ((Reviewed September 1, 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2003 Spring
Gooney Bird Green, a self-possessed second grader, captivates her new classmates with ""absolutely true"" tales of how she acquired her unusual name, traveled on a flying carpet, and directed a symphony orchestra. Though somewhat overdrawn as a character, Gooney Bird is a fine storyteller, and her message to her classmates--that they, too, have stories to share--is a good one. The text is accompanied by banal illustrations. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2002 #5
"I like to be right smack in the middle of everything," Gooney Bird Greene informs her new teacher, and the self-possessed second grader wastes no time taking center stage in the classroom. As Mrs. Pidgeon's students learn the rules of what makes a good story, Gooney Bird captivates her classmates with tales of how she acquired her unusual name, traveled on a flying carpet, and directed a symphony orchestra. Printed in a large typeface, the stories she relates are not just entertaining, they are also "absolutely true"-though that may be a matter of semantics. Questions from her classmates reveal that Gooney Bird "directed" the symphony by providing their bus with directions to the Town Hall. Her narrative about coming to the aid of the Prince actually concerns her neighbors, the Prinns. Writing for a younger audience than usual, Lowry displays a keen understanding of how second-grade classrooms operate-from the boy who puts an origami star up his nose ("Don't sniff, Malcolm. Do not sniff. That is an order," says Mrs. Pidgeon) to the constantly raised hands of those who want to contribute, however tangentially, to Gooney Bird's stories. Because the rest of the kids are depicted as being very ordinary in the text and the banal illustrations, Gooney Bird herself comes off as overdrawn in both appearance (wearing pajamas and tutus to class) and manner ("Mrs. Pidgeon, do you want to deal with this?" she asks haughtily when a story is interrupted once too often). She's not always convincing as a character, but she's a fine storyteller, and her message to her classmates-that they, too, have stories to share-is a good one. Copyright 2002 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 2002 August #2
Gooney Bird Greene (with a silent E) is not your average second grader. She arrives in Mrs. Pidgeon's class announcing: "I'm your new student and I just moved here from China. I want a desk right smack in the middle of the room, because I like to be right smack in the middle of everything." Everything about her is unusual and mysterious--her clothes, hairstyles, even her lunches. Since the second graders have never met anyone like Gooney Bird, they want to hear more about her. Mrs. Pidgeon has been talking to the class about what makes a good story, so it stands to reason that Gooney will get her chance. She tells a series of stories that explain her name, how she came from China on a flying carpet, how she got diamond earrings at the prince's palace, and why she was late for school (because she was directing a symphony orchestra). And her stories are "absolutely true." Actually, they are explainable and mesh precisely with the teacher's lesson, more important, they are a clever device that exemplify the elements of good storytelling and writing and also demonstrate how everyone can turn everyday events into stories. Savvy teachers should take note and add this to their shelf of "how a story is made" titles. Gooney Bird's stories are printed in larger type than the narrative and the black-and-white drawings add the right touch of sauciness (only the cover is in color). A hybrid of Harriet, Blossom, and Anastasia, irrepressible Gooney Bird is that rare bird in children's fiction: one that instantly becomes an amusing and popular favorite. (Fiction. 6-9) Copyright Kirkus 2002 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2002 August #2
Two-time Newbery Medalist Lowry (The Giver; Number the Stars) introduces a feisty, friendly heroine in this light novel. Readers know immediately that red-haired, freckle-face Gooney Bird Greene is as unorthodox as her name: wearing pajamas and cowboy boots, she arrives at the door of her new second-grade classroom all alone, "without even a mother to introduce her." She announces she has just moved from China (which turns out to be the name of a town, not the country) and demands "a desk right smack in the middle of the room, because I like to be right smack in the middle of everything." Dressed each day in another eccentric outfit, she relays to the class a series of stories that are "absolutely true" even though they initially seem anything but. Stretching the facts creatively through some wily wordplay, Gooney Bird explains how she spent time in jail (while playing Monopoly), acquired diamond earrings at a palace (they came from a gumball machine in an ice cream shop called The Palace) and directed a symphony orchestra (she directed the lost driver of the bus transporting musicians to the auditorium). Interruptions from curious classmates heighten the fun. Never mind the dubious likelihood that a second-grader would possess such command of language and pithy delivery; youngsters will likely hope that Gooney Bird has enough tales stored in her fertile imagination to fill another volume. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 6-10. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2002 November
Gr 1-3-Second-grader Gooney Bird Greene is new to Watertower Elementary School. She tells fantastic stories, which are "always absolutely true." Her clothes are always unusual, ranging from pajamas with cowboy boots to a pink tutu over green stretch pants. In seven chapters, she captivates her classmates with her wild tales about "How Gooney Bird Came from China on a Flying Carpet" and "The Prince, the Palace, and the Diamond Earrings." She assumes the role of the teacher as she fields the class's questions about storytelling. The students learn that stories have main characters and secondary characters, and that using the word "suddenly" gets people's attention. In the last chapter, she takes off her props, an orange fur jacket and a cowhide purse, which she used to tell how her cat fell in love with a cow, and assures her peers that everyone has all sorts of stories to tell. While the "voice" of Gooney Bird is supposed to be that of a second grader, it sounds more like an adult talking through her. Most of the time, she sounds just like the teacher. The cleverly titled stories could spark children's interest in writing their own stories. This isn't one of Lowry's best, but it's a useful read-aloud.-Janet M. Bair, Trumbull Library, CT Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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