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Noelle Simmons, as Stuart Little, gives a mouse's thumbs-up to Isabella Morris as Mrs. Little and Connor Boisvert as Mr. Little, during a skit at the Bartlett Reads program kick-off on Monday. (SUsan Clark PHOTO)

'Stuart Little'

Big deal in Goffstown over 'Stuart Little'

GOFFSTOWN — Sometimes a little book can offer big rewards.

On Monday, Bartlett Elementary School students and staff kicked off Bartlett Reads, a school-wide family read aloud program featuring "Stuart Little," by E.B. White. Over the next few weeks, students are required to read a chapter from the book every day, but it's not just about homework. The program includes activities, games, a special lunch and seeing the book's characters come alive on stage.

Several fourth-graders put on a skit on the first chapter of the book during assembly on Monday. Noelle Simmons played Stuart Little, Isabella Morris played Mrs. Little, Connor Boisvert played Mr. Little, Andre Lefebvre played Stuart's brother, George, and Emily Boudreau played the Doctor. The crew, Jasmina Cardakovic, Parker Bradley, Johnathan Lopez, Katelyn St. Onge, helped with signs and scenery.

"Every staff member is getting a book so we'll read it all at the same time," said Linda Beloin, Title 1 reading teacher. "The goal is to get everyone to enjoy reading and inspire them to want to read, and get families involved."

Anne Mello, Bartlett's reading specialist, said reading "Stuart Little" is a great book for the program.

"A lot of parents grew up with the book so it's a good bonding project," she said.

The program also includes the game, Mouse-e-matics, where students create their own Stuart Little with a throw of the dice as each number represents a body part or piece of clothing, or they lose their turn or have to start over. Principal David Bousquet will also pose a question of the day about the book, and students have to put their answers into a bucket to give their class a chance to win one of four Barnes & Noble gift certificates.

Students also have a project where they create something miniature Stuart Little could use. They will have an opportunity to bring their creations to a special lunch on May 14, and dress up as one of the characters.

"We're trying to tie in different curriculum areas. The art teacher is doing the project, the music teacher is doing a scarf dance with the kids like in the book when the brother is learning to play 'The Scarf Dance' on the piano and one of the keys gets stuck and Stuart Little climbs into the piano," said Beloin.

On May 9, after the students have read all 15 chapters, they will take a field trip to the Dana Center for Humanities at St. Anselm College The Dallas Children's theater adaptation of "Stuart Little." Tickets to the play and transportation are provided through donations by Macy's and the Bartlett PTA.

"When we went to Macy's to pick up the check I could tell the employees were excited that the money was going to the school and we were doing reading comprehension with the kids," said Beloin.

Some students have already read the book and are looking forward to rereading the book with their families and seeing the play.

"It has so much detailed writing in it," said fourth-grader Alexis Pelley. "My favorite part is the first chapter and how it describes Stuart. It was kind of funny how they made the bed."

Monica Kissell also liked the first chapter, and she said the book offers her an opportunity to be creative.

"It left us in suspense. It's a really good book because it made me think more about being an author," said Monica, who makes homemade story books with drawings.

Jack Sullivan also read the book on his own in third grade.

"I saw the movie and wanted to see if it was the same as the book," he said.

Last summer, Johnathan Lopez read the book on a dare from his friends, and is now looking forward to the program.

"I want to see if the play is the same thing as the book," he said.

In the past, the Bartlett Reads program has featured the books, "Because of Winn Dixie," by Kate DiCamillo; "26 Fairmount Avenue," by Tomi dePaola; "Charlotte's Web," by E.B. White; "The Summer of Riley," by Eve Bunting; and "The Tale of Despereaux," by Kate DiCamillo.

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