My favorite read-aloud is The Tale of Despereaux by Kate Di Camillo. It came recommended by a teacher from Riverhead who said her second graders applauded when it was finished. It is that good! I have had the same experiences the past three years. My students are thoroughly engaged in this book. There are many places where they have to infer what is happening in the story. They have those 'AHA!' moments when the story connects to another part of the story.
The story is told in four parts and we're introduced to three separate individuals who are integral parts of the story. Their individual stories take place at different times as well, but they all come together in the end. The first part of the book is about a mouse named Despereaux (des per oh) who is born with his eyes open and has very large ears. From day one, his family notices he doesn't seem mouse-like. He doesn't like to scurry, or eat, and even more strange--he reads! When he sits at the foot of the king, and falls in love with Princess Pea (yeah, my students laughed at the name pea (pee) but they got over it quickly) he gets sent to the mouse council to decide his fate. The reader is then introduced to a rat named Chiaroscuro (the mixture of light and dark together) and later... a farm girl turned slave named Miggory Sow. The way these three characters lives intertwine is the sheer genious workings of a talented author.
Best of all--Universal Pictures is creating the movie version due out December 19th. While showing the preview clip to my students (our school just got a laptop on a cart with a projector--yippee! our technology is catching up) they were dismayed at how many parts were put in the movie that were not in the book. I figure we should be up for a field trip--December 19th is the Friday right before we go on break for Christmas and New Years. Perfect timing. We can see the movie in the morning...they can look over their responses from the book and create a venn diagram about the similarities and differences between the book and movie.
Even better--my colleague, Jenn, put our grade level in to become Kidsday writers and asked if we could interview Kate DiCamillo and review her books and the movie. We've got our fingers and toes crossed on this one!