Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Day Dirk Yeller Came To Town

Casanova, Mary. 2011. THE DAY DIRK YELLER CAME TO TOWN. Ill. by Ard Hoyt. New York: Farrar Straus & Giroux. ISBN 9780374317423 [Suggested Grade Levels Pre-K-3]

Notorious outlaw Dirk Yeller comes to town, looking to sooth his cat scratch fever symptoms, and fearful townsfolk send him without success to the general store, the trading post, and the saloon to find relief. Young Sam follows him throughout the town and finally thinks of the place that will calm Dirk Yeller down and bring him peace – the library. Miss Jenny has just the cure for Dirk– books with stories that capture the outlaw’s attention and ultimately his heart. Dirk leaves town, vowing to return to check out more books and the librarian.

Larger than life illustrations promote the tall tale quality of the story, with pictures of Dirk Yeller filling an entire page. Caricatures in soft pastels help to create a sense of harmony, not terror, illustrating Dirk’s true nature once he is converted by books. Clever end page drawings both set the stage for the story with wanted posters and close the tale with a wedding announcement. The text, full of colloquialisms and humor, presents a tale of redemption through reading.

Create a read-aloud experience by assigning characters to student volunteers (individually or to small groups). The teacher or librarian can read the commentary, with the readers chiming in when it’s their character’s turn to speak. Projecting the pages with a document camera will make this an easier task.

Other tall tale picture books include:
Isaacs, Anne. SWAMP ANGEL. ISBN 9787221082824
Kellogg, Steven. PECOS BILL: A TALL TALE. ISBN 9780688058715
Nolen, Jerdine. THUNDER ROSE. ISBN 780152164710

By Susi Parks Grissom

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