Friday, January 25, 2013

Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston

Premise: This novel is told entirely in rhyming verse. It has a bit of a Dr. Seuss feel, but with actual and impressive vocabulary. The story is a classic fantasy quest in which a young girl, Katrina, teams up with a creature named Morty who is a Zorgle. They are sent on a quest to find and save the Zorgles from the town of Zorgamazoo who have mysteriously vanished.
 Title: Zorgamazoo
Author: Robert Paul Weston
Length: 283 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Novel in Verse
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Content appropriate for: Grades 4-7
5 stars!
3 adjectives that describe this book: entertaining, whimsical, unexpected

I absolutely loved Zorgamazoo! Weston set out to write a novel completely in rhyming verse and boy does he succeed! It never once felt contrived. The lines flowed naturally and the story never felt forced. In it's own right, Zorgamazoo is a rip-roaring adventure full of scrapes and epic danger for our hero and heroine. The premise of a quest is very familiar for middle grades fantasy books, but this is a quest that is entirely unique. Wait till you meet the villain of the story!

As a fifth grade teacher I couldn't help thinking about the value of this book as a read aloud. It's no wonder that it was named an honor book for the E.B. White Read Aloud Award. Not only is this a fun story that will have my students laughing one minute, then listening anxiously then next, but it's got some great embedded teaching opportunities too. I plan to use it to look at rhythm and phrasing in poetry, as well as vocabulary and figurative language. There are some epic tier 3 words in this text, embedded in synonyms and context clues to support learning. I can already hear my students asking, "Is there another one? Where's book 2?"

I can't say enough about how this book was put together. The perfect illustrations from Victor Rivas Villa are captivating and engaging. The font often changes in size, style, and layout to compliment the action. This beautiful combination of words, sounds, and images really creates a complete story that is fun to read. I highly recommend this book.

Book trailer featuring text read by Allen Cumming

Read Chapter 1 in pdf at the Zorgamazoo website. Notice the great illustration and use of font.

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