Cool Zone With the Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume
April 23, 2009 in Blume, Judy, Chapter Books, Creative Writing activities, Elementary Educators, Making Personal Connections Tags: Cool Zone with the Pain and the Great One, creative writing ideas, Fluzzy the cat, Judy Blume, Personal Connections, school stories, the Pain and the Great One series
Reviewed by Margo Dill, www.margodill.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
*Chapter Book for 6 to 9 year olds
*1st grade boy and 3rd grade girl as main characters
*Rating: The Pain and the Great One provide so many laugh-out loud moments that people might find you a little kooky while you’re reading this book!
Short, short summary:Judy Blume is brilliant. There’s just no way of getting around it. In Cool Zone With the Pain and the Great One, Jake, a first grader and little brother, has problems with keeping his lost tooth, dealing with a bully, saying the word “breakfast” correctly, and a dog practically destroying his favorite stuffed animal on Bring Your Pet to School Day. Then there’s Abigail–the Great One–who is in third grade. She has problems of her own, including putting up with the Pain, chasing boys, changing her name, and dealing with the bully. Even Fluzzy the cat has a few things to say in this book. The chapters alternate between the voice of the Pain and the voice of the Great One. Readers who are beginning chapter books will love this story that should really hit home for them! (By the way, I checked out Cool Zone With the Pain and the Great One in audio book format, and the narrator, Kathleen McInerney, does a fantastic job!)
So, what do I do with this book?
1. This is a great read aloud for first through third grade classrooms. Your students or your children will really be able to identify with the problems Jake and Abigail have in Judy Blume’s book. This book should also be a great discussion starter. Each day after reading a section of the book, take some time to talk with students and ask them if they have ever lost something important such as a loose tooth, wanted to change their name, or had to deal with a bully? You can take these discussions one step further and ask students to write about their feelings or their experiences in their reading response journals.
2. After reading the chapter on “Bring Your Pet to School Day,” why not have a Pet Day without real pets like Jake’s class was supposed to have? Another great idea in this book is the field trip to a restaurant and then creating your class’s restaurant for parents, faculty members, and siblings. If you homeschool your children, you could still have a restaurant day. Find a local restaurant that you and your children really enjoy, talk to the manager about taking a tour, and then schedule one for your family. After you have visited the restaurant, create one in your home one night–your children can be the wait staff and cooks while you and your spouse enjoy the relaxation! A unit on restaurants can correspond with a career week as well as teach responsibility and some math, reading, and writing skills.
3. Fluzzy the cat doesn’t like her name. Kids will absolutely love the ending of this book! For a creative writing activity, ask students to write in the voice of their pets. If they don’t have a pet, they can write in the voice of a pet they know or find a picture in a book or magazine, and write in the voice of that pet. Have fun with this activity like Judy Blume did in her book! If your dog could write a journal entry, what would he say?
4. For ideas on journal writing prompts for Judy Blume books, please see this Bright Hub article.
If you have used this book in your classroom or with your students, please leave a comment here on how it went. If you have read any of the other books in the Pain and the Great One series, then let us know about those! For more information on children’s books, check out Jen Robinson’s book page.