Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Obi, Gerbil On the Loose, by Michael Delaney

Title:  Obi, Gerbil on the Loose
Author:  Michael Delaney
Publisher:  Dutton Juvenile
Year:  2008
Pages:  197
Genre:  Animal Fantasy
Themes:  Pets, Self-Confidence, Adventure
Age Range:  3rd-5th Grade

Summary:  from Goodreads
Obi the Gerbil is home alone! Obi's owner is on vacation, and the neighbor feeding the pets has forgotten all about the gerbil tucked away in her cage. Obi loves her cozy home, but without food and water she must escape to survive. So, taking on the courage of her namesake (Star Wars Jedi knight Obi-Wan), she breaks out and meets her fellow pets?cats up to no good, a maniacal tarantula, an insecure snake, a grumpy mouse, and a crotchety dog. Obi finds danger, but also makes new friends as she embarks on her great adventure
Obi the Gerbil is a very inspiring character for younger readers.  Even though she is afraid of almost everything in the wake of her being left behind, she overcomes her fear and is able to survive despite being left with no food and water.  Sounds like an awful lot of upper elementary students, as they begin to make the transition from being completely dependent on their parents to being more independent.  Obi's adventures are funny, and there is a lot of action, from cat chases to exploring the attic to traversing secret tunnels.  This would be a good book to use to talk about perspective and point-of-view.  Students could use Obi's example to imagine themselves as small as a mouse, and write a narrative from that perspective.  It is also a pretty good text to use for teaching voice in writing.  Obi may only be a gerbil, but she has a very strong personality that comes across beautifully in Delaney's writing.  My inner nerd also appreciated that she was named for a jedi, but maybe that's just me!  A great addition to a classroom library.

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