Routman is enthralling. I feel so inspired and excited to teach reading! My only complaints (and they are all minor) is that it is a little repetitive...moreRoutman is enthralling. I feel so inspired and excited to teach reading! My only complaints (and they are all minor) is that it is a little repetitive and cheesy, and I sometimes got confused by the terms she uses for different ways of reading. However, she does explain everything really well and she provides examples. Also, there's a glossary at the back to help you out. FYI: this is mostly for elementary teachers, but there are some useful ideas for high school teachers as well. Maybe secondary teachers should borrow this book instead of buying it.(less)
This book has beautiful watercolour illustrations. It's a cute, inspiring story of a girl who refuses to let anyone's opinions of her outfit affect he...moreThis book has beautiful watercolour illustrations. It's a cute, inspiring story of a girl who refuses to let anyone's opinions of her outfit affect her. (less)
Abortion, divorce, environmentalism, Canadian-American relations, sexism – oh my! This list of difficult issues is tackled in Margaret Atwood’s Surfa...more Abortion, divorce, environmentalism, Canadian-American relations, sexism – oh my! This list of difficult issues is tackled in Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing, which is about a woman who searches for her lost father in northern Quebec, along with her boyfriend (Joe) and a married couple (David and Anna). These subjects may seem a bit overwhelming for one novel, but Surfacing handles these issues (and more) very well. The unnamed narrator is deeply affected by these problems of twentieth-century society, and the novel’s messages are not lost on a twenty-first century reader. I don’t know how good of a strategy this is, but when I read novels, I like to be able to say to myself that ‘character X is a good/bad person’. I just find that the characters are typically more memorable when I can label them according to how their morals and intentions compare to my values. It was easy for me to do this with characters like David (who I found despicable, yet entertaining), and Anna (who I felt sorry for, while I also wanted to knock some sense into her). The reader feels like he or she knows where David and Anna are coming from, even though the novel is a first-person narrative. On the other hand, Atwood skilfully kept Joe, and his relationship with the narrator, a little mysterious. Joe’s intentions were never clear, and the narrator kept waiting for him to physically hurt her, but he never did. Although such vagueness about an important character would normally annoy me, I enjoyed the vagueness of Joe. The first-person narration means that every insight about Joe depicts the narrator’s numbness to love. Atwood uses Joe as a vehicle for the reader to learn about the narrator, and Joe never really becomes more than ‘the narrator’s boyfriend’, but he does play a major role in the narrator’s transformation. One aspect of the novel that I thought was very interesting was the Canadian view of Americans. Atwood seems to have grasped the love/hate relationship that Canadians feel towards our neighbours to the south. With the huge differences in population size, it is understandable that Canadians feel threatened by American society, and are therefore critical of it. In Surfacing, Americans are represented as polluting, careless killers who will do anything to get what they want: “Are the Americans worse than Hitler?” (129). David is especially vocal about his distaste for Americans, calling them things like “rotten capitalist bastards” (12). But, the irony in David’s character is how much he is actually like the Americans he hates so much. Besides the fact that he loves baseball (the American past-time), he seems to treat his wife Anna the same way the Americans abuse the Canadian environment; they take advantage of it for their own leisure without regard for the damage they are causing. Many people would probably call Surfacing a feminist novel, but I think that Atwood gets even deeper than that. She seems to be commenting on what it means to be human, not just a female human. This comes from the narrator’s understanding of nature, which I would say is the main reason to read this novel. The narrator does not accept the roles for women in society, but she does not seem to accept society in general, either. Having grown up in northern Quebec, the narrator connects to the natural world better than any city or suburban person ever can. It is this connection that makes her critical of people’s place in the world, which is seen in her views on animals, surviving in the woods, and environmental exploitation. The narrator’s insight may make you want to pack just the essentials, and head off into the wilderness! Overall, Surfacing is a psychological exploration of a woman’s search for her place in the world. While the serious issues in this novel are not too heavy, they will make the reader go into deep thought about the major problems presented. I have heard that Atwood’s newer works are much better than her earlier stuff. I don’t know if that means people typically do not enjoy Surfacing or they just really love her later works, but in my case, I know I will definitely be checking out more titles by Atwood since I really enjoyed Surfacing. How could her writing get better? (less)
I particularily enjoyed: Ch. 5 - Critical Media Literacy for the Twenty-First Century: Taking Our Entertainment Seriously Ch. 35 - Just Like Lizzie: Co...moreI particularily enjoyed: Ch. 5 - Critical Media Literacy for the Twenty-First Century: Taking Our Entertainment Seriously Ch. 35 - Just Like Lizzie: Consumerism, Essentialism, and the Domestication of Rebellion in Disney's Lizzie McGuire Ch. 36 - Television's Mature Women: A Changing Media Archetype: From Bewitched to The Sopranos Ch. 40 - We're Here, We're Queer...but Have You Dealt with It? Ch. 50 - Punk Rock, Hip Hop, and the Politics of Human Resistance: Reconstituting the Social Studies Through Critical Media Literacy(less)
I read and enjoyed: Irving ("Rip Van Winkle" & "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"), Emerson (Intro to "Nature", "Self-Reliance", "The American Scholar"...moreI read and enjoyed: Irving ("Rip Van Winkle" & "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"), Emerson (Intro to "Nature", "Self-Reliance", "The American Scholar", & "The Poet"), Poe ("The Man of the Crowd", "The Tell-Tale Heart", "The Black Cat", & "The Purloined Letter"), Hawthorne ("My Kinsman, Major Molineux","The Minister's Black Veil", "The Birth-Mark", & "Rappaccini's Daughter"), Stowe (parts of "Uncle Tom's Cabin"), Thoreau ("Resistance to Civil Government", & Ch. 2 of "Walden"), Douglass ("Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself"), & Melville (Bartleby, The Scrivener"). (less)
I've never read a book that talks about penis so much in all my life! This story is entertaining, although the last chapter kind of undercuts the whol...moreI've never read a book that talks about penis so much in all my life! This story is entertaining, although the last chapter kind of undercuts the whole thing. It's interesting because it makes you feel defensive about what you've read. The end reminded me of Life of Pi, although it's not the same.(less)
A moving account of life in residential schools. While what happens in this story is horrible, I hope people realise that even worse things went on in...moreA moving account of life in residential schools. While what happens in this story is horrible, I hope people realise that even worse things went on in many residential schools. I guess that since this is a children's book, Sterling did not want to go into details about that.(less)
Bud is a great character; he is very entertaining. This book deals with many issues, including exclusion, abuse, racism, the Great Depression, orphans...moreBud is a great character; he is very entertaining. This book deals with many issues, including exclusion, abuse, racism, the Great Depression, orphans, yet the story is upbeat and fun. (less)
What happens when an unknown, uneducated farm woman (Mary Swann) writes amazing poetry? Scholars start the endless pursuit of uncovering her life, her...moreWhat happens when an unknown, uneducated farm woman (Mary Swann) writes amazing poetry? Scholars start the endless pursuit of uncovering her life, her inspirations, and her influences, because, you know, a woman with a simple life like hers couldn’t have possibly written like that! Swann is basically a novel about the ridiculousness of some academics. The most entertaining part of the book is the characters’ attempts to discover the so-called real Mary Swann. But, their attempts do not really reveal any truth to who Mary Swann was; they just make stuff up. For instance, Swann’s poetry may not even be accurate because the original manuscripts were ruined by fish guts, and the publishers simply filled in the missing words with what they thought had been there! Also, Jimroy believes that Swann’s poetry reveals that she had to have been influenced by Emily Dickinson, but in actuality, it is almost certain she was most influenced by nursery rhymes. So, we never actually learn anything about Mary Swann since everything about her is basically made up because the academics need self-assurance about their own abilities and education. Hey, if a woman like Mary Swann can write great poems, why can’t people with impressive educations?
Another interesting aspect of the novel is Shields’ use of different forms of writing. This novel contains first person narrative, third person narrative, poetry, and film script, and each of these works effectively to move the story along. These different styles work because each one lets you get to know the characters intimately, and it is this closeness with the characters that really pushes the plot. Out of the various styles, I would have to say that I was a little disappointed with the film script at the end. A third person narrative would have done just as good a job. I found it a little bit tedious to read through the camera, music, and set notes, but that may just be my opinion (for some reason, I have never been a fan of reading scripts). Despite this, I value Shields’ effort to change styles to keep it interesting, and the reader guessing.
Speaking of guessing, Swann definitely did have me guessing about who was stealing all the various Swann items. Although Swann probably wouldn’t be classified as a mystery, it still has the mystery element that readers can appreciate. The ending left me with a few questions about who might have been an accomplice to the robber, and the robber’s motives (for example, is he or she stealing to get back at a certain someone?). All-in-all though, I am satisfied with the fact that the robber was revealed, as I was worried that it would remain a mystery and bother me forever!
Overall, Swann will definitely have you questioning the accuracy of history. Is history really just written by pretentious scholars who are desperately trying to fill in the blanks in order to prove their worth? You will start thinking about the relevance of history, but, as disheartening as that may seem, the ever-changing form, the closeness the reader feels to the characters, the mini mystery, and the satirical outlook on academics all come together to create a great book that will not disappoint. Lastly, the character of Mary Swann may make you feel a little more proud of your potentially not-so-impressive education! (less)