Scieszka, J. & Smith, L. (2001). Baloney (Henry P.). New York: Viking.
Appetizer: When Baloney is late to class, his teacher demands a good reason for his tardiness and Baloney doesn't disappoint.
In his lengthy excuse (which involves an unwanted trip to Planet Astrosus) Baloney uses a lot of words from different languages for objects that are similar to the English pronunciation. Examples include a "razzo launch pad" and a "escape pordo." Students can have fun shouting out the English words.
As with illustrator (and sometimes author!) Lane Smith's many picturebooks, Baloney includes Smith's usual highly stylized and unusual illustrations. And in this one, I think only a few of the characters look creepy.
On another note, can someone definitively tell me how to pronounce the last name Scieszka. I know I've hear others say it. But I always pathetically stumble of it, so much so that I'm at the point where even though I share a few of his books with my classes, I don't say his last name out loud. Anyone, pronunciation genius? Anyone?
"Last Tuesday morning, at 8:37 a.m., Henry P. Baloney was finally late for class once too often.
"That's it," said Miss Bugscuffle. "Permanent lifelong Detention...unless you have one very good and very believable excuse."
"I misplaced my trusty zimulis. Then I...um...found it on my deski. But...someon had put my deski in a torakku."
"I jumped smack in the middle of a...razzo launch pad."
"But I forgot the Astrosus word for "thank you" and accidentally used the world for "doofbrain.""
To Go with the Meal:
As a teacher reads aloud Baloney, he or she could regularly pause to encourage students to guess what will happen next. With the many languages incorporated, students should feel welcome to be as imaginative as possible with their guesses. Plus, if a student does happen to know some Finnish, Uqbaric, Maltese, Swahili, French, Italian...and so on! they can have an empowering moment when they recognize a vocab word from a familiar language. That, or students can finish reading Baloney and then claim to know at least one word in almost 20 different languages.
Students could also go around the room making up their own stories of why Baloney (or their own original character) might be late for a class.
If you're looking for lessons to take from this book, dear reader, a teacher could focus on how different languages, cultures and even regions of the U.S. have different words for one object. Another brief teaching moment would b to discuss the laws of gravity or to define a tall tale.
Tasty Rating: !!!