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Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair Hardcover – March 19, 1996

4.7 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 4?A cautionary tale that will appeal to anyone who believes in the power and magic of books. When the town of Triple Creek first built a huge TV tower, Aunt Chip took to her bed, promising, "there will be consequences." Now, 50 years later, the townspeople are so obsessed with their televisions that they are oblivious to everything else. Of course, people still "use" books-as furniture, to fix crumbling walls, to patch up tattered roofs-but no one knows how to read. Finally, Aunt Chip, who used to be the town librarian, pops out of bed to do something about it. Beginning with her nephew, Eli, she teaches the children to read. Hungry for books, they take them from wherever they can be found. When Eli and his friends pluck a copy of Moby Dick from the dam, they unleash a wall of water that destroys the TV tower and changes the future of the town. A master storyteller, Polacco flavors this modern fable with the language and cadence of a traditional tall tale. Filled with amusing details, interesting characters, and unexpected twists, this enjoyable story clearly makes its point without seeming heavy-handed. In perfect harmony with the text, the illustrations add dimension and resonance to the words. Enslaved by TV, Triple Creek is colored in dismal grays and imprisoned by imposing power lines. Afterwards, the town is blooming, bustling, and brightly colored. Watch out. Polacco's passion for books and reading is contagious.?Joy Fleishhacker, New York Public Library
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Ages 5^-8. Aunt Chip took to her bed 50 years ago when the big television tower came to town and the library closed. She knew there would be consequences, and there were--everyone stopped reading, and now they don't remember how. When Aunt Chip learns that, she gets out of bed and begins teaching the children to read. Soon the kids love reading so much they're taking books out of potholes and sagging buildings, where the books have been doing infrastructure duty. Eventually, the TV tower falls down, at first angering the adults and then causing them to read. Reading reigns, and Aunt Chip goes back to her job of decades ago, town librarian. Naturally, this subject is near and dear to every librarian's heart, but Polacco's treatment of it borders on the didactic. Still, since books and reading are always in competition with television viewing, maybe a little didacticism doesn't hurt. Polacco's signature-style artwork, a bit more freewheeling than usual, has fun with the fantasy elements of the story. Not top-of-the-line Polacco, but libraries will probably want to buy this for the message. Ilene Cooper
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Lexile Measure: AD510L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel Books; First Edition edition (March 19, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399229434
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399229435
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.4 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nicole Schuette on May 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is a wonderful story about what happens when people no longer read. It has great imagery--books being used for table legs and to prop open doors, even as a dam. I used it in my seventh grade language arts class, following it up with a discussion of why reading is important. Even though it's a picture book, my seventh graders really got into it.
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By A Customer on February 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
THEMES and/or Bibliotherapeutic Potential
Fictional parable for young readers ages five and up
The Power of Reading
Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair is a humorous parable by Patricia Polacco on the dangers of too much television watching. Aunt Chip took to her bed fifty years ago when the big television tower came to town and the library closed. She knew the consequences would be great. Everyone stopped reading and then did not remember how. Books were used, but not for reading. When Aunt Chip finally got out of bed to teach the children to read, they were reading so much they were taking books out of potholes and sagging buildings. Eventually they took books out of the dam and an ensuing flood caused the television tower to fall down, angering adults and inducing them to learn to read. Reading again reigned and Aunt Chip again was the town librarian.
The author tackles the issue of too much TV with her trademark humor and charm. Although not the very best of Patricia Polacco's books, Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair is an enjoyable read that opens many important questions dealing with literacy. Readers will enjoy her drawings and youngsters will be attracted to the lively Aunt Chip who has the strength and courage to stand up and bring the miracle of literacy to the townsfolk.
Teachers can use this book with its all-important theme to discuss both the value of reading, and think about how TV can take over a person's life. It is a great title to read during Say No to TV Week. Students can keep track of their TV watching and reading as they discuss what happened in Triple Creek and the effect reading can have on their lives.
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Format: Hardcover
What a wonderful book to use to teach students a variety of concepts! I used this book to start a lesson in computers. Students listened to the book and then we discussed some concepts: Value of books How TV can take over one's life Importance of reading Team Work
After this the students tracked their activities for 7 days - 24 hours a day. We then created spreadsheets with this information and finally graphed our information - using excel or other spreadsheed program. At the end of the session, I had some thought provoking questions that they needed to answer in small groups based upon their graphs and spreadsheets. They loved it!!
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By A Customer on July 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book for talking to children about the importance of books and ties in perfectly with Say No to TV week! Our other favorites for Say No to TV include Library 'Lil and Shel Silverstein's poem, Jimmy Jet and the TV Set.
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A Kid's Review on January 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam affair, Patricia Polacco teaches you that you shouldn't watch more t.v. than read. I thought this book was excellet. I recommend this book to people that like t.v. because maybe this will teach them a leason to STOP WATCHING T.V.! My favorite part of this book is when they destroyed the t.v. tower.
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Format: Hardcover
In the town of Triple Creek, television is the only source of entertainment and information. In fact, the teachers have even been replaced with educational programming. The library was torn down to make way for a television transmitter. For fifty years, the town has not read a book, but has instead used them to prop up buildings and fill in potholes. So long they have been without books, that they have actually forgotten to read.
When Eli begins visiting his Aunt Chip, she teaches him to read. The most wonderful gift in the world. His enthusiasm spreads and soon all the children are begging to have Aunt Chip teach them to get stories from a book. When the adults learn of what is happening they respond at first in fear and anger, but eventually want their children to teach them to read.
Why 5 stars?:
Polacco has a wonderful way of making her characters a little zany, but still real enough to be believable. The watercolor illustrations give the soft feeling of her words. Most importantly, the message of the importance of books and reading is something that purveys through most of Polacco's works. This book deserves to be a part of your home, school or classroom library. Read it to, and with your child. Let him or her know that you value reading and they will too.
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Format: Hardcover
"These are words. They tell about ideas, dreams, and feelings. They take you to places far from here. They show you how to be fair and just, and sometimes show you what happens when you're not. Books are a treasure. All you need is the key. It's called readin'." - Aunt Chip

This is perhaps my new favorite book by Patricia Polacco, and that's really saying something given how much we adore Thunder Cake (which got us through my son's fear of thunder), Thank You, Mr. Falker (which helped me come to grips with my own frustations in school--30 years later!), and Mrs. Katz and Tush (which grew our love for cats and my aunts even more).

Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair doesn't bash TV-watching, as the description might lead you to believe, as much as remind us each of the value of reading and the power of story from an amazing story teller.

A must-read and talk about for every family in the digital age!
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