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Gooney Bird Greene Paperback – March 9, 2004

102 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Gooney Bird Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Two-time Newbery Medalist Lowry (The Giver; Number the Stars) introduces a feisty, friendly heroine in this light novel. Readers know immediately that red-haired, freckle-face Gooney Bird Greene is as unorthodox as her name: wearing pajamas and cowboy boots, she arrives at the door of her new second-grade classroom all alone, "without even a mother to introduce her." She announces she has just moved from China (which turns out to be the name of a town, not the country) and demands "a desk right smack in the middle of the room, because I like to be right smack in the middle of everything." Dressed each day in another eccentric outfit, she relays to the class a series of stories that are "absolutely true" even though they initially seem anything but. Stretching the facts creatively through some wily wordplay, Gooney Bird explains how she spent time in jail (while playing Monopoly), acquired diamond earrings at a palace (they came from a gumball machine in an ice cream shop called The Palace) and directed a symphony orchestra (she directed the lost driver of the bus transporting musicians to the auditorium). Interruptions from curious classmates heighten the fun. Never mind the dubious likelihood that a second-grader would possess such command of language and pithy delivery; youngsters will likely hope that Gooney Bird has enough tales stored in her fertile imagination to fill another volume. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 6-10.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-3-Second-grader Gooney Bird Greene is new to Watertower Elementary School. She tells fantastic stories, which are "always absolutely true." Her clothes are always unusual, ranging from pajamas with cowboy boots to a pink tutu over green stretch pants. In seven chapters, she captivates her classmates with her wild tales about "How Gooney Bird Came from China on a Flying Carpet" and "The Prince, the Palace, and the Diamond Earrings." She assumes the role of the teacher as she fields the class's questions about storytelling. The students learn that stories have main characters and secondary characters, and that using the word "suddenly" gets people's attention. In the last chapter, she takes off her props, an orange fur jacket and a cowhide purse, which she used to tell how her cat fell in love with a cow, and assures her peers that everyone has all sorts of stories to tell. While the "voice" of Gooney Bird is supposed to be that of a second grader, it sounds more like an adult talking through her. Most of the time, she sounds just like the teacher. The cleverly titled stories could spark children's interest in writing their own stories. This isn't one of Lowry's best, but it's a useful read-aloud.
Janet M. Bair, Trumbull Library, CT
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling; Reprint edition (March 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440419603
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440419600
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.3 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lois Lowry is known for her versatility and invention as a writer. She was born in Hawaii and grew up in New York, Pennsylvania, and Japan. After several years at Brown University, she turned to her family and to writing. She is the author of more than thirty books for young adults, including the popular Anastasia Krupnik series. She has received countless honors, among them the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, the California Young Reader.s Medal, and the Mark Twain Award. She received Newbery Medals for two of her novels, NUMBER THE STARS and THE GIVER. Her first novel, A SUMMER TO DIE, was awarded the International Reading Association.s Children.s Book Award. Ms. Lowry now divides her time between Cambridge and an 1840s farmhouse in Maine. To learn more about Lois Lowry, see her website at

author interview

Q. When did you know you wanted to become a writer?

A. I cannot remember ever not wanting to be a writer.

Q. What inspired you to write The Giver?

A. Kids always ask what inspired me to write a particular book or how did I get an idea for a particular book, and often it's very easy to answer that because books like the Anastasia books come from a specific thing; some little event triggers an idea. But a book like The Giver is a much more complicated book, and therefore it comes from much more complicated places--and many of them are probably things that I don't even recognize myself anymore, if I ever did. So it's not an easy question to answer.

I will say that the whole concept of memory is one that interests me a great deal. I'm not sure why that is, but I've always been fascinated by the thought of what memory is and what it does and how it works and what we learn from it. And so I think probably that interest of my own and that particular subject was the origin, one of many, of The Giver.

Q. How did you decide what Jonas should take on his journey?

A. Why does Jonas take what he does on his journey? He doesn't have much time when he sets out. He originally plans to make the trip farther along in time, and he plans to prepare for it better. But then, because of circumstances, he has to set out in a very hasty fashion. So what he chooses is out of necessity. He takes food because he needs to survive. He takes the bicycle because he needs to hurry and the bike is faster than legs. And he takes the baby because he is going out to create a future. And babies always represent the future in the same way children represent the future to adults. And so Jonas takes the baby so the baby's life will be saved, but he takes the baby also in order to begin again with a new life.

Q. When you wrote the ending, were you afraid some readers would want more details or did you want to leave the ending open to individual interpretation?

A. Many kids want a more specific ending to The Giver. Some write, or ask me when they see me, to spell it out exactly. And I don't do that. And the reason is because The Giver is many things to many different people. People bring to it their own complicated beliefs and hopes and dreams and fears and all of that. So I don't want to put my own feelings into it, my own beliefs, and ruin that for people who create their own endings in their minds.

Q. Is it an optimistic ending? Does Jonas survive?

A. I will say that I find it an optimistic ending. How could it not be an optimistic ending, a happy ending, when that house is there with its lights on and music is playing? So I'm always kind of surprised and disappointed when some people tell me that they think the boy and the baby just die. I don't think they die. What form their new life takes is something I like people to figure out for themselves. And each person will give it a different ending. I think they're out there somewhere and I think that their life has changed and their life is happy, and I would like to think that's true for the people they left behind as well.

Q. In what way is your book Gathering Blue a companion to The Giver?

A. Gathering Blue postulates a world of the future, as The Giver does. I simply created a different kind of world, one that had regressed instead of leaping forward technologically as the world of The Giver has. It was fascinating to explore the savagery of such a world. I began to feel that maybe it coexisted with Jonas's world . . . and that therefore Jonas could be a part of it in a tangential way. So there is a reference to a boy with light eyes at the end of Gathering Blue. He can be Jonas or not, as you wish.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#24 in Books > Teens
#24 in Books > Teens

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
Author Lois Lowry is perhaps best known for her controversial, award winning, and often very interesting children's books. These books, on the whole tend to be written with the older child reader in mind. Swiveling her head a full 90 degrees to the left, Lowry has now decided to write a book with the younger child readers in mind. Hence, the creation and subsequent publication of the adorable, "Gooney Bird Greene". Tis a tale of one girl, her stories, and her awe-stricken/hand-raising/wide-eyed classmates.
When Gooney Bird Greene arrives in Mrs. Pidgeon's second grade class unannounced, nobody knows quite what to make of her. Decked out in pajamas and cowboy boots, and holding her lunch with a dictionary, she immediately becomes the class's star pupil. For you see, Gooney Bird Greene was blessed with the gift of storytelling. By sheer coincidence, Mrs. Pidgeon is attempting to teach the class all about the different parts of a story. As the book progresses and Gooney Bird tells her "absolutely true" tales, the book carefully examines what it is that makes a story either good or bad. By the end, Gooney Bird has influenced all the students (and even Mrs. Pidgeon) to tell their own stories just as she has.
The book's top notch, really. Both children and their parents reading this book will be entranced by the notion of how Gooney Bird's outrageously titled tales really do turn out to be true in the end. The tale entitled, "How Gooney Bird Came from China on a Flying Carpet" turns out to be about how Gooney Bird and her family moved from their small town of China in their car, and how GB accidentally flew out of the car while in the center of the family's old rolled up carpet.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Talk about a versatile author! And laugh-out-loud funny, too. Teachers in grades 1-4 are going to love reading this one in classrooms. Gooney Bird is an endearing second-grader who has a lot of practical wisdom to dispense and is able to do it with verve and self-confidence (and while wearing a tutu!) Imagination really CAN change the tone of a classroom and this charming book will show everyone just how it does.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Melissa R. Beals on October 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for my second grader because it looked cute. She read it for a book report she was doing at school. After she was done she came to me and told me that I should read it because it was so good. I read it last night and it nearly brought me to tears! I loved it. It was so loving, and sweet, and educational in a completely fun way. Gooney Bird Greene, and the children in her class are how we all hope our children to be; individual, loving, curious, kind, respectful, etc.. Gooney Birds teacher is what every child's teacher should be; patient, loving, and not afraid to let a 2nd grader be smarter then herself! This is a must read for parents and children alike!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Allyson Graddy on February 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Gooney Bird Greene, by Lois Lowery, is an excellent book that will have students laughing out loud! This book is great for bringing out the quiet students in any class. Gooney Bird Greene is a new student in Mrs. Pidgeon's second grade class at Watertown Elementary School. She began very quickly to liven up the room with her fun-loving personality and outrageous choicde of clothing. The class is learning how to write stories and Gooney Bird Greene has a story to tell everyday. With her "true stories" she tells, the kids learn probably more about writing ideas than they would from the teacher alone. Gooney Bird Greene is an inspiration to all the students in the class, even the ones who would never speak up or tended to shy away from the rest of the class. I really enjoyed reading this book and you will to.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Gooney Bird Greene
Gooney Bird is a funny story. You should read this book. I liked this book. It's about a girl that tells stories that are
funny. One of the stories was how Gooney Bird lost her cat on a flying carpet. She says all her stories are true. Gooney Bird moved from China to Watertown. Gooney Bird now goes to Watertown Elementery School. She is in second grade.Gooney Bird Greene is by Lois Lowery.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By EDRD-303 on September 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
In Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry, the author made us feel as if we were young students again sitting in Mrs. Pigdeon's classroom hearing all of the wonderful stories that Gooney Bird Greene has to tell. These stories were "absolutely true" according to Gooney Bird Greene and although they seemed to be fictitious, they were not and it was inspiring to the other students to write their own true stories.

The main character, Gooney Bird, was introduced in the first chapter. Lowry made her seem very interesting, unique and different based on her attire and the way that she presented herself on the first day. For example, in Chapter 2 it states that "Gooney Bird adjusted the pink ballet tutu she was wearing over a pair of green stretch pants. Her T-shirt was decorated with polka dots. Her red hair was pulled into two pigtails and held there with blue scrunchies." This made all of the students interested in her and made them want to hear a story about Gooney Bird instead of Christopher Columbus. She brought herself to school and seemed very confident even though she was a new student. All of the students were immediately drawn to Gooney Bird and it was as if the entire classroom was uplifted by her spirit.

Chapters 2 through 6 were all centered around the stories that Gooney Bird told to the class. Her first story was "How Gooney Bird Got Her Name" and this was the first of many animated stories. This was the most realistic titled story that she told and it only sparked the childrens' interest to hear her other stories. The second story that she told was "How Gooney Bird Came from China on a Flying Carpet" and this is the first story where the students are taught that the use of the word "suddenly" creates suspense and keeps the listener's attention.
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