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Boris and Bella

Last updated Thursday, September 22, 2005

Author: Carolyn Crimi
Illustrator: Gris Grimly
Date of Publication: 2004
ISBN: 0152025286
Grade Level: 2nd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Oct. 2005

Synopsis: Bella Lagrossi, with dirty dress and sticky hair, is the messiest monster in Booville. Her neighbor, Boris Kleanitoff, is, well, clean. Naturally, they're not very neighborly, but when each decides to have a Halloween party, they find a common enemy, Henry Beastie, who's throwing a shindig of his own. All their mutual monsters are going there; no one wants to go to a party at a house so dirty--or so clean. An infuriated Bella and Boris head off individually to give Harry a piece of their minds, but they wind up together, on the dance floor, and then holding hands in the moonlight. There's a real story here, one that has lots of fun with its odd-couple theme and provides plenty of word-plays ("boo-ffet"). The stylish design works well with the sophisticated ink-and-wash artwork that has a hint of Charles Addams ghoulishness.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Looking at the book cover, what do you think this book is about?
•  Are you going to dress up for Halloween? As what?
•  Are you a neat person or a messy person? Do you know any especially neat or messy people? What are they like?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Would you want to live with Boris or Bella? Who? Why?
•  How do you think the other monsters felt about Boris and Bella?
•  Do you think Boris and Bella could ever be friends?
•  Why did Boris and Bella go to Harry?s party?
•  What do you think happened next with Boris and Bella?
•  How did Boris and Bella compromise? Was that better or worse for them?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a Pin the Head on the Headless Horseman game.
•  Make an invitation to the Booville Halloween Bash that Boris and Bella held together the next year. Make sure it includes the menu and the entertainment.
•  Make a monster mask (bring ahead option: paper plates and popsicle sticks).

Special activities:
•  Play Pin the Head on the Headless Horseman.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!