Gooney Bird Greene

by Lois Lowry (2002)

Following in the steps of Pippi Longstocking, Ramona Quimby, and Junie B. Jones, meet…Gooney Bird Greene – a girl whose clothing and stories are as outlandish as her name!  This eccentric, confident second grader grabs her classmates’ attention and wins their admiration the minute she walks in the classroom door wearing her pajamas and cowboy boots.  She declares that she wants to be “smack dab in the middle of everything.” Readers will be equally curious to learn all about the girl who came from China on a flying carpet.

This first installment in the Gooney Bird series introduces the inimitable character who delights children (and adults) with her “absolutely true” stories.  Lowry introduces the reader to some basic storytelling techniques as Gooney Bird’s raucous narratives veer from the suspenseful to the hilarious.  How did Gooney Bird get her name?  Did she really get diamond earrings from a prince?  Why was she late for school?  While telling these amazing stories, Gooney Bird shares writing tips like “Sometimes, class, if you’re creating a story and you get stuck, just say the word suddenly and you won’t have any trouble continuing at all.”

Children, as well as adults, will be happy to oblige when Gooney Bird states that she likes “to have absolutely all eyes on me.”  From this quirky girl we learn the most important lesson of all – that making assumptions about the meaning of someone’s words can often lead to confusion and hilarity.  Invite your students to take up Gooney Bird’s challenge and learn how to create “invisible” stories – on their own.