Monday, February 19, 2007

Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs, by Sharon Draper

I just discovered this incredible new series. I'm surprised I haven't heard anything about it on all the kid lit blogs I'm always reading. I found it after my librarian sister Lisa told me that Sharon Draper had some other books, besides Copper Sun, which were worth checking out. I really loved Copper Sun, but it isn't a book I could ever share with fourth and fifth graders, so this series was a very surprising find. Ziggy and his three friends have a club called the Black Dinosaurs. They are these curious, smart, funny boys who have adventures and solve mysteries.

Here are some of the reasons I am so excited by this series: I think the characters will engage many of my students, both my boys and girls, cuz they are so cool. Ziggy is Jamaican and ends lots of sentences with "mon". He's also funny, eats things like broccoli and potato chip sandwiches, and is always misplacing his homework. The books are only about 100 pages each, but the writing is rich, elegant, playful, and at moments quite poetic. There are zesty adjectives, strong verbs, and great dialogue. The second book, Lost in the Tunnel of Time, is full of interesting, true information about the history of the underground railroad. But it's also a very scary adventure that climaxes with the boys caught in a collapsed tunnel. It's a fast-moving mystery that's hard to put down. I haven't read all of the books in the series, yet, but for my own reading pleasure and for the literacy development of my students, I am glad that it's a series and I hope it's a series that keeps on growing.

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