Wednesday, February 24, 2010
So what do we think? Iggy the Iguana
Iggy the Iguana
Williams, Melissa. (2008). Iggy the Iguana. Houston, TX: Long Tale Publishing. ISBN #978-0-9818054-0-5. Author lists ages 7-11. Litland recommends for ages 9-12, grades 3 (advanced) through 6. See full review at http://www.litland.com/
Introverted, clumsy and a tail that is too long. Sounds like the typical “boy next door”. Or at least the lizard next door! That’s Iggy, the introverted 9 year old lizard in 4th grade. An iguana to be exact. A self-conscious one at that. It must be tough to start a new school for a shy kid who knows so little about the world. We can feel his worry and fear, his anxiety and joy, and know that others have nerve-wracking experiences similar to our own. Through a focus on the emotions of the character, the author captures her reader.
Ultimately, Iggy is like the rest of us. He has a need to belong, to have friends, to have fun, and have the loving security of his family. He could choose to manipulate but doesn’t; to gossip but turns the conversation towards a positive direction instead; to make fun of others but instead adapts his own style to their own. He could be scheming of how to sneak out of the house to play with new friends but, instead, he asks his mother (and she delays a decision until dinner when the family is together). Iggy may not know it, but he has a habit of making good choices.
“Iggy placed an invitation on everyone’s desk...even Bud’s! Iggy knew he couldn’t leave anyone out. That would be mean.”
In some ways, it is reminiscent of the old television show, Leave it to Beaver. But this story has very modern themes of a surfer-dude turtle, a not-so-nice Kat (with a K), a family suffering the loss of their mother, and a first crush. And in stark contrast of recent books that focus on the meanness and weakness of their characters, our “underdog” lizard is full of optimism and Hope that naturally comes out of a loving family and a school with good authority figures.
Do note that, prominent in the plot, is Iggy’s crush on Liz and his attempts to win her over as “his girl”. This may become a factor with younger advanced readers and families should discuss it together. Those families who follow the Theology of the Body or Purity Pledges may find it an opportunity to discuss boy-girl relations in an age-appropriate manner with their children.
Coupled with an audio book, this duo has a place in the home, homeschool and traditional classroom. For those reading at home, the availability of the audio book simulates being in a class and having the teacher read to the class. There are questions asked to test comprehension at just the right points in the story. In the traditional school, this may be useful to coax reluctant readers, for tutoring, or as a standard in the school library reading lab. In any situation, children who are having difficulty mastering their readings with vocabulary, pronunciation and timing will find the audio helpful. For skilled readers, listening to the CD while reading along in the book adds fun and diversion. The story is entertaining and characters realistic (even if they are reptiles!). We highly recommend this set for average 9-11 year old readers, knowing it can be enjoyed by any child who simply enjoys a good book!
Face it, if your child has been bringing home books demonstrating a negative outlook or manipulative behaviour of unpopular kids, they’ve already been introduced to meanness and skirt-chasing. Steer them towards this book series instead! Iggy the Iguana is a great alternative for parents who are unsure if some recent book releases match well with their family values (Do-Re-Mi's). We recommend teachers add this to their reading list to provide concerned parents with a wider range of alternatives.
(Want to know more about iguanas and other lizards? See what Animal Planet has to say http://animal.discovery.com/guides/reptiles/reptiles.html Also see the author's website at http://www.iggytheiguana.com/ )