This is my NON-PRINT option - I really didn't like these poems. The combination of the banjo music and Prelutsky's droning voice made me wonder how ki...moreThis is my NON-PRINT option - I really didn't like these poems. The combination of the banjo music and Prelutsky's droning voice made me wonder how kids could like these poems. I wonder if the illustrations help...I kept thinking of my niece and whether she would be entertained by these poems. But then I couldn't bear the thought of having to listen to these poems again to see if she'd like them. (less)
The idea is clever but I wished there was more depth or discussion to these fairy tale poems. The concept is interesting - Singer attempts to shed lig...moreThe idea is clever but I wished there was more depth or discussion to these fairy tale poems. The concept is interesting - Singer attempts to shed light in the well-known fairy tales by exposing both sides of the story through reversible verse. Singer writes the traditional version of the story and then rewrites the same words from bottom to top. I understand that she is limited in her words since the verse has to make sense top to bottom and then bottom to top, but some of the fairy tales told from the opposite perspective fall short or flat. I thought when I picked up the book that it would be more about the untold stories from the other characters. What I did appreciate though was the attempt to consider multiple perspectives - exposing children to this idea could potentially prevent or at least raise the idea that there isn't always "one truth."
I would still use this book with my freshman when we explore fairy tales in the beginning of the year. If anything - it may be a good way to introduce the unit in terms of discussing how "there's more to fairy tales than meets the eye." I might lead with the story of Briar Rose titled "The Sleeping Beauty and the Wide-Awake Prince." The first poem is "Typical. / Hacking through briars, / looking for love - / the prince at work. / But I have to be / sleeping, / never / partying, / never / out in the world. / It's no fun being / in a fairy tale." This is the traditional story told in the perspective of Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty - the typical damsel in distress. Then the second poem reads "In a fairy tale / it's no fun being / out in the world, / never / partying, / never / sleeping. / But I have to be / the prince at work, / looking for love, / hacking through briars. / Typical." This second poem provides the perspective of the prince - the one who has to be the savior or rescuer. Students could begin discussing all of the "untold" stories or all of the hidden messages in fairy tales. (less)
Zia writes a well-researched and highly reflective account of the history and future of Asian Americans. I was drawn to Zia's book in the first few pa...moreZia writes a well-researched and highly reflective account of the history and future of Asian Americans. I was drawn to Zia's book in the first few pages where she writes "In 1965, an immigration policy that had given racial preferences to Europeans for nearly two hundred years officially came to an end. Millions of new immigrants to America were no longer the standard vanilla but Hispanic, African, Caribbean, and - most dramatically for me - Asian...Up until then I was someone living in the shadows of American society - struggling to find some way into the portrait that was firmly etched in white and, occasionally, black" (4). She later explains that she finally realized she "had an identity of [her] own" (4). Even though I did not directly experience what she shares, I can relate and connect to her stories, as I'm sure many of my students can. Many of our students are anywhere between 1st or 5th generation immigrants or have family members or neighbors who are immigrants; everyone has felt the need to conform or to assimilate to the "American" way.
Zia shares how often times during her childhood she felt invisible or even obsolete. Like Lilia from Jhumpa Lahiri's "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine" recounts how every year her social studies class starts with the Revolutionary War. Zia explains how "each year, [her] history classes followed a predicable rhythm. September began with the Leni-Lenapes, the local Native American Indians who had vanished long ago. By midyear [they] were into Manifest Destiny, the Gold Rush, and the 'settling' of the West. The Civil War came and went, and slavery was finally abolished. In the spring, [they] zipped through Woodrow Wilson, the League of Nations, and World War II. In this whirlwind treatment of history, there wasn't a single Asian American to be found. [She] had no clue that people like [her] ha[d] contributed to the building of American, the land of [her] birth" (22).
Zia's book is that untold story most readers never were exposed to. She shares how each Asian American group came to the US and how each group tried to distinguish itself separate from the other Asian or Pacific Island races. She also discusses the countless stereotypes associated with Asian Americans. She ends her book with a question about sharing "insider" information - something that made me remember the chapter on multicultural literature. Zia is clearly an insider and she questions if she should share this information with her readers. It's funny - I'm actually avoiding the insider information because I know people's reaction to it! Well - she shares a story about how she was on a flight to China and in the in-flight magazine, in English and in Chinese, there was a recipe for "Puppy Stew." Zia explains how she spent most of her life refuting these accusations, but there it was "illustrated in color...that some of us do." It's then that she poses the question "Will Asian Americans be forever censoring ourselves, fearful of how we might be reinterpreted and misconstrued by 'outsiders' - other Americans. When will we feel safe enough to project our whole selves?...To be seen, we must make ourselves visible, showing blemish as well as beauty" (314-315).
This is the story of James Matthew Barrie - the creator of Peter Pan and in some ways, the original Peter Pan. Barrie had a pretty typical childhood i...moreThis is the story of James Matthew Barrie - the creator of Peter Pan and in some ways, the original Peter Pan. Barrie had a pretty typical childhood in Scotland - he was one of seven children. His mother often told the children stories which Barrie adored and allowed him to tell his own stories as grew older. Barrie also started writing short stories which were called "penny dreadfuls." His story eventually gets published in the James Gazette in London which kickstarts his career as a novelist. He wrote stories about Thrums - a make-believe town in Scotland that was based off of his mother's own memories. He began to write plays and eventually married. Barrie met two boys - George and Jack Llewelyn Davies - on a daily afternoon walk. And then the three met every day and played pirate games and sailed boats on Round Pond. Barrie grows closer with the family (turns out there were five boys total in the family) and he spends more and more time with them. So much time in fact that his marriage falls apart. IN 1904 he wrote a play about the games he and boys played; he said that he "always knew that [he] made Peter by rubbing the five of [the Llewelyn Davies boys] violently together, as savages with two sticks produce flame." The play was a success and eventually, the parents of the boys pass away and Barrie became their guardian. When Barrie passed, he gifted the copyright for Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Hospital for Sick Children in London which means that any profit from the book goes to the hospital.
On each page there is a small quotation from Peter Pan that correlates with the moments in Barrie's life - it's a nice and clever touch.
I teach Peter Pan to my students - we use it to discuss all of the "hidden" messages. We watch it after several discussions of fairy tales and examinations of the critics' views of fairy tales. At this point they are able to see the rampant gender stereotypes in fairy tales but they are skeptical that fairy tales can be racist. Then they watch Peter Pan and are mortified at the portrayal of the "Indians" - especially when they sing "Savages, savages - they're not even human." I don't think children should stop watching Peter Pan - I just think they should discuss what they see. The gross portrayal of Native Americans, the vicious competitions between Tinkerbell & Wendy and the mermaids & Wendy, and the portrayal of overweight people. (less)
Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney retell the well-known story of Rosa Parks in a refreshing way. Pinkney's story reads like a poem or even a blue...moreAndrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney retell the well-known story of Rosa Parks in a refreshing way. Pinkney's story reads like a poem or even a blues-inspired song as her word choice include "duet," "crooned," and "strummed." She portrays Jim Crow as a bird "waving his bony wings" and who "pecks, pecks, pecks" at people like Rosa Parks who refuses to abide by the Jim Crow laws. She continues this metaphor throughout until "The Supreme Court invited Jim Crow in for a visit, and waved a gavel on his bony wings...Right then, Jim Crow grew tired. His bony wings started to ache. His peck, peck, peck began to lose its point." Pinkney recounts the peaceful, non-violent, but effective methods of the men and women who participated in the Montgomery bus boycott. Readers of all ages will appreciate Pinkney's brightly colored illustrations of blue, yellow, and green that allow them to make the connection to the boycott blues in which many Americans - black and white - endured.
I am currently having my freshman research life before the Civil Rights movement - before Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. I read them the book White Socks Only to introduce some of the themes they will encounter during our study of Black Boy by Richard Wright. One of the research topics is Jim Crow. Many students know that about segregation but they didn't know as much about Jim Crow. It would be nice for them to read this book to see the direct connection between the two and its effect with Rosa Parks.
On another note - I went to a Newberry Conference today. The topic was about human rights. When many teachers expressed how their students were concerned and appalled when looking at the human rights of citizens in other countries but were unwilling or unable to really examine our own country's history of human rights because they didn't feel the US was as bad as other countries - the professor suggested making the connection to the "genocide" of African Americans. I had never really heard the Jim Crow south as a time of genocide but it does seem to connect...thoughts? (less)
This is my NONPRINT option - at first the narrator was annoying to listen to but as the story develops and the listener gets to "know" Joey more - it...moreThis is my NONPRINT option - at first the narrator was annoying to listen to but as the story develops and the listener gets to "know" Joey more - it begins to sound like Joey is talking directly to you. Gantos description of how Joey feels and thinks provides a window into the world of a child with ADHD.(less)
In Norma Simon's book All Families are Special - she shares the different family structures. The book starts out with the teacher telling the class th...moreIn Norma Simon's book All Families are Special - she shares the different family structures. The book starts out with the teacher telling the class that she will be a grandmother; this news quickly turns into a sharing session about the students' families. The students explain how they live with both parents or with parents of the same-sex or divorced parents. Some students have big families while others have small families. Other students discuss the relationships they have with grandparents - the ones who live close and the ones who live far. There's an adoption story, a remarriage story, and a single-parent story. For the most part, students reading or listening to the book will most likely see their own family structure in this book. Although the book seems a little predictable and maybe even a little cliched - "Jessica told about her family. 'Harry lives with us...Harry's just like my dad, but he's not our real father. My real father moved away when I was still a little baby...But Harry's great. He taught me how to pitch, and he helps me with my math'" and Hannah who says "'I have two mommies, Michelle and Annie. In our family, we are ride bikes, take hikes, and go camping'"; I appreciated that the book was not all about how happy everyone was. Oftentimes books that portray diversity make it seem so picture-perfect. Simon attempts to acknowledge the sad feelings or difficult moments within families when the teacher asks students "Part of living in a family is sharing happy times and sad times. Can you think of some unhappy things that happen families?" Simon points out that despite the family structure, children can learn to help each other in bad time and enjoy each other during good times. (less)