Gooney Bird and All Her Charms by Lois Lowry (illustrated by Middy Thomas) – This chapter book is part of an award-winning series. Gooney Bird is an eccentrically dressed second-grader with a Type A personality . She is surrounded by a number of outspoken prankster classmates and an infinitely patient teacher. Think Pippi Longstocking in Kindergarten Cop.
In this book, Gooney Bird’s great-uncle, Dr. Oglethorpe, happens to be a prominent professor of anatomy. He visits when her class is studying the human body, surprising everyone by bringing a ‘gift’. He loans the class the human skeleton from his own classroom for a month, to be used in their studies. The kids name it Napoleon. It causes quite a stir among the student body and some of the parents.
The class sets out to involve everyone by setting it up in different locales with different accessories to emphasize the part of the body being studied. All goes well until someone makes off with Napoleon.
Maybe it was because chapter books are not my genre, but this book seemed contrived and self-consciously cute. There was educational value in the content, but it was disguised in outrageous behavior and coincidence. Even Gooney Bird’s charm bracelet of the title, bought at a garage sale, seems pasted on to tie everything together. But the illustrations are highly imaginative and entertaining.