Curse in Reverse by Tom Coppinger; Illustrated by Dirk Zimmer
September 19, 2013 in Caught Between Two Curses, Coppinger Tom, Elementary Educators, Fractured Tall Tales and Fairy Tales, Making Book to Book Comparisons, Picture Book, Reading Skills Tags: Chicago Cubs Curse, compare and contrast skills, Curses, play on words, Venn Diagram
Rocking Horse Publishing gave me a contract for my Chicago Cubs curse young adult novel, Caught Between Two Curses, as many of you know! So, in honor of this, I am going to review some books about curses. This is an older book, but it’s really clever. I found it in my library.
*Picture book, fantasy, first to third graders
*Witch as the main character
*Rating: Curse in Reverse is a folk-tale type book with a play on words. It’s cute and clever, and I think better suited to kids in elementary school, who can understand the play on words.
Short, short summary: A witch who is cold, tired, and hungry wanders into a mountain village and needs a place to sleep. Two townspeople with plenty of room insult her and turn her away. She curses them–the woman with the Curse of Silent Night and the man–the Curse of the One-Eyed Jack. Then the witch goes on and finds a nice, young, childless couple who give up their bed for her. In the morning as she’s leaving–she curses them, too! She gives them the Curse of the One-Armed Man. The couple is sad and confused, but go on with their lives and have a baby. Soon, the curses start to come–the woman and the man have terrible luck because of them (and it’s not exactly a SILENT NIGHT, but a SILENT KNIGHT. . .so you can imagine the one-eyed Jack). The witch comes back to the couple, and they let her in out of fear. When the man finally asks her, why did you curse me? She says: It’s a curse in reverse. Look at you–you are walking around holding your baby and doing everything with ONE ARM. (See the clever wordplay. . .)
So what do I do with this book?
1. Once children see the SILENT KNIGHT, let them try to predict the other curses and how they will really work out. You may need to read a little of each of the other stories (like when the tree comes down on the piano) in order for them to have enough clues to predict.
2. This is a book about being nice to others and giving even when you don’t have anything to give. If you are a teacher who has Christian beliefs, but you can’t share your beliefs in the public classroom, OR if you home school your children and want to instill this value in them, then this is a great book to share with students. It’s not preachy, and it’s fun–it gets the point across. You can also ask children to journal about this: Why did the witch give a bad curse to the man and woman but a good curse to the childless couple?
3. Compare and contrast this story with another folk tale. You can use one with a witch or not. Ask students to make a Venn Diagram to do their comparison. You could do one as a whole class activity and then ask children to pick another folk tale and do their own.