If a girl’s gotta think – and this girl, Gooney Bird Greene, certainly does some thinking – then she’s gotta keep her brain warm. And if that girl wears two pony tails, then that girl needs a two-ponytail hat. Of course. Perfectly logical.
So what has a circular elastic band, two holes perfect for ponytails, and sometimes comes in pale green with ruffles?
Underpants. (And my apologies to Gooney Bird who reminded her classmates and me that while the word underpants, like armpit and bellybutton, will get a laugh, it’s a cheap laugh.)
Soon enough, the talented Mrs. Pidgeon leads the discussion away from Gooney Bird’s brain warming hat and on to poetry, using a possible snow day as its subject.
When students realize that short poems are perfectly acceptable, they soon write:
At the end of the first chapter, Gooney Bird admits that yes, her two-ponytail hat was once underpants, but just like poetry, “it can be whatever you want it to be.” When she removes it, claiming the elastic hurts her forehead, Mrs. Pidgeon is moved to verse herself:
YOU’RE SO ABSURD!
The anticipated snow day does not come, but more lessons in poetry do. (As do a variety of brain warming hats throughout the class.) Students learn about haiku, couplets, and limericks. The once-mysterious Mrs. X also returns, but not in person. Mrs. Pidgeon shares her mother’s poetry. She also shares stories of her mother’s failing health with Gooney Bird and her classmates. In the end it’s Mrs. X’s health and the class’s love for their teacher that inspires Gooney Bird and the rest of the second graders to create their biggest masterpiece: A poem for many voices written, performed, and videotaped by the class.
Lois Lowry's fourth book featuring Gooney Bird is another winner. Sometimes these second graders appear to have wisdom and education well beyond average students their age, but these well-crafted characters are enjoyable nevertheless. Gooney Bird is So Absurd joins Gooney Bird Green, Gooney Bird and the Room Mother, and Gooney The Fabulous as another excellent book to put in the hands of second, third, and fourth graders.