Since posting this, author Matthew Olshan has visited this blog to view the comments students made about his book. Here is the email I received from him.
I found your amazing blog early this morning as I was trawling the Web.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful use of Lalouche. I loved your students’ comments — especially Tahron G.’s, which may be the best comment in history! Actually, I appreciated all of the comments. Many thanks to Kenny, Angela, Nick, Colin…and to the unattributed student who mentioned the use of simile. In fact, the caliber of the student critiques blows away the stuff I’ve been reading by grownups on Goodreads.
It’s wonderful to hear from students, and thrilling to know that clever teachers like you are using the book to advantage in the classroom.
My hat’s off to you. (Not to mention my booties.)
All the best,
For me—and I hope for my students—that is a thrill. I frequently remind the students how cool it must be for authors to get real student feedback after spending so much time on a project. Authors are real people. And for sure it’s cool for US to hear from authors. Authors are ROCK STARS. Thank you, Mr. Olshan.
Now… back to the original post…
• • •
I was fortunate to be on Twitter one night when Random House Children’s Books asked if anyone wanted a copy of the then-upcoming The Mighty Lalouche by Matthew Olshan; illustrated by the award-winning Sopie Blackall.
Ummmm… YES! (please)
When it was delivered to me at work (is getting book packages at work not one of the coolest things?), I was excited to share it with my students. Before I got the chance, author Matthew Olshan wrote a Nerdy Book Club post giving a bit of a sneak peak at Lalouche and some of his opinions about mail.
I could tell that my students weren’t sure what to think about the book when I introduced it and began, but by the end they were quite excited. Be sure to check below for some of their comments. It was my students who pointed out that the illustrator signed my copy— wow!
Along the way I showed them the illustrator’s site for the book. In one word: AMAZING. Blackall used the Japanese paper diorama style called tatebanko. She demonstrates the painstaking process on her site, and also gives some background for the book and preparation. Don’t miss it. [Maria Popova did an extensive feature on Lalouche on her site, Brain Pickings.]
[click the picture above to see the animation]
AND NOW—THE STUDENTS’ COMMENTS:
About Matthew Olshan’s writing:
- Mighty Lalouche fighting those three guys in the beginning was hilarious! Especially after all of them were sitting in the corner sad. —Kenny M.
- I liked how the author used background about French boxing. It made the story a lot better! —Angela G.
- I thought the book was for little kids, but it wasn’t when we read it, so you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. —Nick T.
- Very funny! I think it’s the best of the books and comics and short stories. This is going to be the best book in history!!! —Tahron G.
- In the writing and pictures, Lalouche doesn’t seem like a boxer without the words describing him. When Lalouche was comparing Anaconda to the mail stuff the author used simile.
- I think the book was elegant and delightful how she made Lalouche so wimpy looking, but mighty and strong. The end of the story kept me on the edge of my seat. —Colin R.
About Sophie Blackall’s artwork:
- I liked how the pictures looked after you spent all that time making them. They turned out really nice and I like how the Anaconda wore pink tights. —Ilona L.
- I liked all the pictures throughout the book, but the think I liked most were the mustaches that you put on people.
- I really like how she made the illustrations and took her time. I love the idea of overlapping the pics. —Annie S.
- I thought it was very cool that the illustrator took the time to draw everything and cut it out and then put it all together. It probably took a long time to do it but it turned out really, really good! —Dylan A.
- I liked the way the illustrator did the pictures with shadows. —Lucas Marshall
- I like how all of the photos were all cutouts. The best cutout was when we were able to see the mail. —Cameron M.
- I like how the author put in cut outs so it makes you almost imagine it like you are there. It sucks you into the book so you keep reading. —Roman V.
- I thought it was really neat how the illustrations were drawn and then cut out. What an interesting technique! —Andrew T.
- I liked how all of the pictures were drawn so carefully even if they weren’t that big. Everything was important to look good. —Jacob W.
- I really liked the illustrations. It’s amazing how you cut out each tree, house, envelope, and everything else on its own. —Liam K.
- …the time spent on each piece of paper makes the book a lot better and cooler than other books. —Mark N.
About Lalouche and the book in general:
- I thought the book was a very good book with both equal amount of action and funny things. And I liked how you made the Anaconda look like a dork, ‘cause then people liked it when Lalouche beat him. —Connor A.
- My favorite part was when at the end they gave him a house with a balcony because he didn’t have a window.
- I like when the main character went back to his own life again. — Daniel B.
- I think that the book was very heart touching. I like the way that the book ended because Lalouche always loved his finch and being a mailman and that was his life dream. — Wendy G.
- I liked how everyone didn’t think Lalouche could beat them at first, but then he beat everyone and then that guy wanted to coach Lalouche. — Gabby G.
- I like Lalouche because he stood up for himself when he wanted to fight…
- It was kinda’ crazy when Lalouche came out of nowhere and beat Anaconda and he still wanted to be a mailman. — Jalen
- I liked how Lalouche never even knew that he was a good boxer, but yet he was amazing. If he didn’t get fired he would’ve never known his talent. — Jake J.
About the lessons of The Mighty Lalouche:
- I thought that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, just like the Anaconda judged Lalouche. He thought he could beat him because he was small, but Lalouche was fast, nimble, and strong — Ben C.
- I liked how Lalouche never gave up and it doesn’t matter about how big your are, it is about how big your heart is. —Evelynn R.
- I love this book because there’s the lesson of never giving up! Also the lesson of no judging. Lastly I love how the pictures are just placed on but still have a shadow. —Rena B.
- I like that the book shows that size doesn’t matter. —Solomon S.
- What I think about the book is that it is a story that can help you make your own choices like Lalouche did. One issue in this book is making choices, because in the end Lalouche had a choice to stay a boxer or go back to a mailman.
- This book shows you should never underestimate your opponents, no matter how miniscule or clumsy. Underestimation isn’t always good.