A 2nd Grade look at Return of the Dapper Men

Posted: April 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

Return of the Dapper Men

By: Jim McCann

Artwork by: Janet Lee

Published by Archaia 2010

Envision the world the way you did when you were eight. Picture the sights, the sounds, the smells. Remember school and parents and bedtime. Think of scary stories read by flashlight under the covers and remember dreams; dreams of tomorrow, of what will be, of hopes and fantasies. Now transport your eight year old self to Anorev, a place where time has stopped and nothing changes. For a little over an hour, I did just that with 23 eight year old children. As I read Return of the Dapper Men to them, I watched as they entered the world in their own minds, I listened to the gasps of surprise and wonder and observed the overall silence of enrapture. That in and of itself is amazing review. Kids are honest. They don’t suffer boredom or disinterest. They sat so amazingly quiet, so entranced were they by the world of Anorev, that they only spoke to ask a question for clarification.

After reading the book, I passed the book around so they could look at it up close and we discussed the story from their perspective. We talked about the world, about how much they liked the book, including a few minute interlude where we talked about Fabre’s hats (everyone had a favorite), they asked questions, answered each others questions and they marveled at the artwork in the book, discussing their favorite pages and scenes. They loved the underground city, and they enjoyed trying to find all the different components of Fabre’s home. Most of what we talked about included spoilers, so  just know that your children will love it, and so will you. I have read the book over and over again as it has quickly become a favorite with both of my children, and each time we notice something new.

I will leave you with this exchange I overheard:

Child 1: “Why did they live underground instead of in the city?”

Child 2: “Underground was more fun. They could play all day and have all that cool stuff”

Child 1: “Not me. I would want to live in a house, even if I had to clean it myself.”

And a few of the flurry of questions that were asked:

Why did he ask so many questions? (I loved this question, especially because they were asking so many questions!)

How did they come up with the characters?

And what happens next?

I look forward to reading the future installments to my own kids and bringing them in to their classes to read to the group as they get older. I think my next craft day in the classroom may just have to be decoupage since they loved the art in the book so much and though the style was “really cool” when we talked about it. Thank you to Jim McCann and Janet  Lee for creating such an interesting and thoughtful world that I can share with all those around me.


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