EDUC 567 Children's Lit discussion

The House of the Scorpion > The House of the Scorpion Reflection

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message 1: by Ritsa (new)

Ritsa Mallous | 35 comments Mod

message 2: by Erika (new)

Erika Kiser | 12 comments My views of Science Fiction have mostly been influenced by VERY cheesy TV movies I have seen, but House of the Scorpion has definitely shifted my opinion. I think Science Fiction has the capabilities to attract a wide range of fans and shouldn't be stereotyped as something reserved for nerds or "weird people." Many children enjoy fantasy books and SciFi is just a specific type of fantasy, so I think that any child who enjoyed the Harry Potter series could enjoy House of the Scorpion. As I read this book I realized that the settings and characters were not so far-removed from reality that it couldn't happen. A lot of what happened in the book such as cloning for the sake of harvesting compatible organs for one's self seems pretty attainable with today's genetic technology, along with the fact that animals have all ready been cloned. It shows the ethical and moral dilemmas that would arise if one day became acceptable to clone humans. I also liked that this book shows an extreme version of current immigration issues (it makes sense that Farmer would be interested in this topic since she lives in Arizona). The commentary on immigration makes an advanced reader think about today's Mexico to America immigration practices. Obviously, younger readers will miss a lot of the embedded themes, but this text begins to lay a foundation for the idea of "what does it mean to be human?" and "what makes one human different from another?" This book is set in a future time, but it also causes the reader to look to the past and associate the prejudices towards clones in the book to the prejudices towards those with a minority race, culture, religion or sexual preference. The "what if" that I questioned throughout the book was if one day clones would exist and be the main target of discrimination.... I loved the book and I could go on and on about it, but I think this is a great one for students to read as well as adults who would be able to think about the embedded themes.

message 3: by Mary (new)

Mary Kathryn | 12 comments I was so surprised and really happy that I liked this book! I remember reading the summary when we were initially picking the books we were going to read and thinking how I probably wouldn't like the book at all, but I was pleasantly surprised. I though that it was going to be weird and not relatable at all, but the characters were so easy to relate to, and they were very much like normal children are today. Matt especially struggled with prejudices from his peers and never felt like he was a true human being. Although one may think that this is so different from our world we live in now, the things that happen could possibly take place in the near future; we are not so far removed from this story being reality. I think that really drew me in and attracted me. Our discussion about the book, I thought, was also very enlightening and deep. I really enjoyed talking about the connection to the Holocaust, Immigration, and communism. I think that this book would be great in the classroom because it would provide an opportunity for children to delve deeper into a novel than just the basic reading comprehension story. Although students may not fully understand all the parts of the novel such as the drug aspect and the brutal violence, the book would definitely help prepare them for the future. Overall, I absolutely loved this book! I'm so happy that I opened my mind to try something new because it definitely paid off.

message 4: by Brianne (new)

Brianne Hough | 12 comments I am really happy I chose this book to do my book discussion on! I remembered reading it as an 8th grader and I absolutely loved it then, but I got a whole new perspective on it now that I'm older. Looking at all of the issues that Farmer handles in the story, I think she executed this novel tremendously. I especially enjoyed exploring her website where I got a "behind the scenes" look at her perspective on the novel. We had a pretty baller discussion on it, and like many of my peers, I am not a fan of science fiction--this book, while it is certainly heavily laced with sci-fi elements, has many human themes that are so relatable--love, relationships, humanity, suffering, perseverance, etc... I could go on forever! I llooovvveeed reading this a second time; I think it is my favorite book of the semester so far. I love that Farmer managed to create a complex children's novel filled with emotion, government commentary, profound characterization, and puzzling themes while still managing to make it age appropriate. I would ABSOLUTELY teach this book in a classroom, despite the mature themes the book addresses. I loved this book and I can only hope she comes out with the sequel soon!

message 5: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Mcclellan | 11 comments I really enjoyed reading this book. I had never been a fan of science fiction but this read changed my mind. It was such a detailed story with twists and turns that I had never expected. Also, our book discussion was my favorite one yes. Nancy Farmer did a terrific job character building and the way that she let the story flow could not have been better. This book tackles so many topics that could be controversial, but I feel that the eighth graders that will be reading this book will not find the subjects upsetting but just use them as a tool to further their understanding of literature.

message 6: by Kristen (new)

Kristen | 10 comments Like I said in class, I hate science fiction. I detest any type of book, movie, or form of media that has reference to aliens, cloning, supernatural powers etc. However, I will admit that I did enjoy reading ‘The House of the Scorpion,” (but this does not in any way shape or form mean I am going to begin reading science fiction). As did everyone in my group, I found the characters very easy to relate to, which I don’t think happens very much in science fiction. The author did a good job with characterization and describing relationships, and providing situations within the text for the reader to see these relationships form/develop. There were elements in the book that I, as a 20 year old reader, picked up on right away, such as the opium. Although certain things stuck out like a sore to me, I do not think children in middle school (or possibly advanced readers in upper elementary) would pay much attention to or think critically about these issues. Overall, I would use this book in my classroom if I was going to have a unit that lasted a few weeks because I know it would take younger children several weeks to read the entire book. I would also use small books discussions for this book, so everyone is able to voice their opinions or predictions in a more “intimate” setting then if it was an entire class discussion.

message 7: by Pauline (new)

Pauline | 9 comments I loved this book! I remember reading it when I was younger but the only detail I remember from reading it then was that it was about a boy who was cloned. I feel like this is a good example of GOOD science fiction, and really, if I think about it, what science fiction is supposed to be like. Nancy Farmer integrated so many things into this novel that I feel like almost an entire class could be set around this. First, and most obviously, she brought up the moral question of cloning humans. Should humans be allowed to create life in such an unnatural way? What does it mean to be human? I also loved the way she touched on the hot topic of what some people call the drug war between Mexico and the United States. She clearly sees it as a problem and used this book to show an example of what a world ruled by this kind of market could become. She also commented on communism with her invented country of Aztlan, where the boys are told by the "Keepers" to recite principles that would make them good citizens. The Keepers tell stories that warn against individualism and brainwash the boys into thinking that everyone should be the same, no one having more than anyone else, while at the same time they live in luxury which them claimed to have earned through their labor as youths. The principles that they had to recite really reminded me of Mao's little red book and all of the communist sayings that people brainwashed by his terrible empire would chant. This book was really interesting! She also commented on government and its control over people with the eejits, people whose intelligence and will were taken away upon their entrance into the world, without any choice. But all of these political and societal commentaries aside, Nancy Farmer created complex characters who were so deeply human. Tam Lin, Matt's savior, struggled all his life with taking the lives of 20 children in his attempt to kill one man. What I found the most crazy was the fact that El Patron's empire was pretty much just him trying to make up for what he thought was taken from him in his childhood. He kept making clones and then killing them, getting more lives, in an attempt to make up for his siblings' lost lives. His whole entire empire was based on his desperate attempt to feel powerful. Nancy Farmer put so much into a child's book! I read this in late middle school and saw it just as an awesome story, but with all that can be pulled out of it, I feel like it could almost be read in 9th grade so that the teacher could look at it at a deeper level.

message 8: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Robbins | 9 comments Well, as most people from our group said, I too think this was a good book. I was really surprised at how much I got into reading it and how much I enjoyed it. I was very hesitant when it came to last week's genre of Science Fiction. I really have not read many sci-fi books. I think the closest I have come to enjoying them was when I read a lot of the Goosebumps.
Our group had a really great discussion. Thank you Brianne. I loved how she brought in how her teacher in 8th grade taught the book. I think it made me see future students also really liking these books. Our discussion brought up many themes and topics I had not even thought about. I like the comparisons we were making to Hitler etc. Another touchy subject we brought up was the appropriate age to teach this book and the inappropriate content. I felt that there was definitely some content in the book that many students and parents would not enjoy reading. I can see many sad and scary conversations in the future about this book. The violence from Tam Lin, the general brainwashing, and neglect/violence towards children is eyeopening.
I loved reading Matt's story. He was by far my favorite character and I think Farmer did an excellent job bringing him to life. His character can tell many valuable stories and he himself is easy to relate to.

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