Sunday, December 13, 2015

Hollywood Indians

There is a new Adam Sandler movie on Netflix called "The Ridiculous 6". In April of this year Native actors walked off set when no one would listen to their requests that the insulting display of Native American culture be changed. Stereotypes of Native culture are still around, but there aren't enough people fighting for change. I have found that representation of Natives is rarely found in any media, positive representation even less so. Cooperative Children's Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison collects statistics on diversity represented in children's literature. "The books represented by these numbers are based on everything that comes into the library annually. This includes picture books, novels, and non-fiction." From their collection of 3500 books in 2014 only 38 were about American Indians and of those 38, 20 were written by American Indians. [link] If we don't actively take part in making our cultures known, understood, and respected, then we can not expect change to happen. It's difficult, but we need to talk about stereotyping and how it affects not only our communities, but the individual as well. The more these types of issues get discussed the more can be done to resolve them and we will have problems like "The Ridiculous 6" happen less and less often. Talk to your community and Tribal leaders, make a plan, post something on social media, talk to your families and children, bring these issues to light and let each other know that none of us is alone.

This first article from Indian Country Today Media Network discusses the walk off and was originally posted on the 23rd of April 2015.
Native Actors Walk off Set of Adam Sandler Movie After Insults to Women, Elders

This article and 3 minute video from TakePart discusses the importance of positive representation of Native culture in media and was originally posted on the 11th of December 2015.
Native Americans Dispel Stereotypes in Response to Adam Sandler Movie

Saturday, December 5, 2015

End of Semester (finally) Self Assessment

Looking back at the semester, I’m ultimately proud of myself for having tackled both Children's Literature and Adolescent Literature. Yes, I would have been able to do better had I taken the classes individually, but that was not the case. I’m a little disappointed in myself for having missed the assignments I did, it all goes down to having the time and I didn’t. I’ve had a rough semester and admittedly a tough time adjusting to the amount of work expected of me at university. My most effective piece this semester has to be my response to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. It was also the most difficult piece I think that I have ever written in my life. I wrote many drafts, until I figured out that I had to be honest in my writing or it just wouldn’t work. It was difficult writing about something so close to my heart and my home. It was a lot different than what I believe to be my best critical piece, which was on Jumpstart the World. Though I spent probably an equal amount of hours on each piece, there's something to be said about being able to take a step back when writing. I’m calling this semester a success and I’m hoping that my grades reflect that.

Here is the permalink to the complete list of books with tags that I read this semester, most of them have reviews as well!
Library Thing Book List

Friday, December 4, 2015

Lesson Plan for "American Born Chinese"

This one was tough. I had to create a lesson plan for my YA Lit class and use it with my peers as my students. Talk about nerve racking! I was pretty nervous, but I think it turned out alright. Below is my self evaluation after the lesson followed by the lesson plan itself.

The class had an option of two books, only 3 people chose to read American Born Chinese, which was a little disappointing for me. I think, though that my lesson plan went well considering that I had a very small and quiet group. It was difficult to get discussion going and to keep it going with the quiet ones, but I learned the importance of having a lot of bank questions. We used all of them. It was nice that we got to go over so much material in the book, but I would have rather had a more robust discussion about a few questions than short answers to so many. I could have used more practice before the lesson and I am really glad that my first lesson ever was with the students from my class. Everyone participated, but I really was hoping for a bit of a larger group. For future lessons, I will have to make sure to have much more material prepared just in case I have a quiet class again. I’m not sure what all you would like to have for this response, but I honestly don’t have much to say. In short; it went well but, it could have gone better if I were a more prepared teacher.

American Born Chinese Lesson Plan
“It’s easy to become anything you wish… so long as you are willing to forfeit your soul”.

Define and discuss stereotyping.
Discuss the use of the graphic novel format.
Discuss the ending and the big reveal in terms of idenity.

American Born Chinese written and illustrated by Gene Luen Yang

Common Core Standards
CC.9-10.R.L.2 Key Ideas and Details: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
CC.9-10.R.L.3 Key Ideas and Details: Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
CC.9-10.R.L.4 Craft and Structure: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).
CC.9-10.R.L.5 Craft and Structure: Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.
CC.9-10.R.I.2 Key Ideas and Details: Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
CC.9-10.R.I.3 Key Ideas and Details: Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.
CC.9-10.R.I.5 Craft and Structure: Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).
CC.9-10.W.1 Text Types and Purposes: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
CC.9-10.W.1.b Text Types and Purposes: Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level and concerns.
CC.9-10.W.2 Text Types and Purposes: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CC.9-10.SL.1 Comprehension and Collaboration: Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CC.9-10.SL.1.a Comprehension and Collaboration: Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.
CC.9-10.SL.1.c Comprehension and Collaboration: Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.
CC.9-10.SL.1.d Comprehension and Collaboration: Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.
CC.9-10.SL.4 Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
CC.9-10.L.1 Conventions of Standard English: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CC.9-10.L.1.b Conventions of Standard English: Use various types of phrases (noun, verb, adjectival, adverbial, participial, prepositional, absolute) and clauses (independent, dependent; noun, relative, adverbial) to convey specific meanings and add variety and interest to writing or presentations.
CC.9-10.L.2 Conventions of Standard English: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
CC.9-10.L.2.c Conventions of Standard English: Spell correctly.
CC.9-10.L.5 Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
CC.9-10.L.5.a Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: Interpret figures of speech (e.g., satire, sarcasm) in context and analyze their role in the text.
CC.9-10.R.H.5 Craft and Structure: Analyze how a text uses structure to emphasize key points or advance an explanation or analysis
CC.9-10.R.ST.2 Key Ideas and Details: Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text’s explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.
CC.9-10.W.HST.1 Text Types and Purposes: Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.
CC.9-10.W.HST.1.a Text Types and Purposes: Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among the claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
CC.9-10.W.HST.1.b Text Types and Purposes: Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying data and evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both claim(s) and counterclaims in a discipline-appropriate form and in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level and concerns.

  • students are prepared with 2-3 questions regarding the novel
  • choose one prepared question to give to another student
  • make sure everyone has a different question
  • allow 5 minutes to write short answer
  • take turns - share question and answer
    • discuss each question as a group

Bank Questions!

  • discuss the graphic novel format
    • could this book have been successfully written as a traditional novel?
    • how did the use of pictures help propel the narrative?
    • how did the use of pictures help the reader understand character motivation?
  • what is a stereotype?
    • what is some evidence of stereotyping in this novel?
    • how can stereotypes affect a person’s attitude toward self?
  • how could being apart of two cultures affect one's identity?
  • is there such a thing as being overly Americanized?
  • this novel is told from three perspectives, why is each story told differently?
  • Chin-Kee
    • what is the significance of the laugh track?
    • what was your impression of Chin-kee?
    • why do you think Chin-kee is important? unimportant?
      • why do you think Yang included Chin-kee in this novel?
  • Ending
    • did you see the ending coming?
    • did you figure out who was whom?
      • how was the transformation foreshadowed through text? pictures?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Response to "Feed" by MT Anderson

This response was written all the way back in October and I simply forgot about it. It was a long drive back from Austin. 

Feed - YA Literature, dystopian, science fiction/fantasy

As I was traveling for the weekend, I listened to most of the audio book and read the end when I arrived in Austin. When I began listening to the audio I found it pretty easy to follow the plot and understand the language. The new language was meg brag. The read-alouder (I am well aware that isn’t a real term, but it should be) helped me to understand the story through his expert use of inflection and amazing ability to have different voices for all of the characters. It wasn’t until I started to read the book on my own that I had trouble understanding the novel. When I switched from listening to reading I expected to fully understand the story and not have any trouble with the language, I was very wrong. I T-R-U-D-G-E-D through the story as a reader. The language, that I had no problem understanding as a listener, was suddenly foreign to me. I was still engaged, but perhaps only because I was originally enthralled by the read-alouder. I’m typing this before I drive back to New Orleans, but I am going to listen to the last 100 pages of the book on my way home to see if I will be able to better understand it. As a teacher, to help my kids better understand this novel, I would create a vocabulary list that could be filled in as we read the book as a class. I would also read aloud or use the audio book (I really liked it, the commercial banner bits were especially cool!) for at least the first chapter, if not the whole book in class. I think that the kids might be more adaptable to new language than adults and would be able to understand the new language through the context much more quickly. I read often and vigorously, and I had difficulty in reading this book, but when I was listening to the audio book, not only was I completely absorbed in the story, I was also leaving each chapter with more information than I believe I could have from a single read. I really think that the key to understanding and appreciating this novel thoroughly is in reading it aloud. In this way the teacher and the students can experience the book together in a captivating manner.

I also read these two picture books by MT Anderson for my Children's Literature class, both are fantastic reads and make great fun for a read-aloud!

The Serpent Came to Gloucester
- folklore, poetry, fantasy, 3rd - 6th grade

Me, All Alone, at the End of the World
- dystopian, fantasy, 4th - 6th grade

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Reader Response to "Pinned" by Sharon G. Flake

I haven't updated because my professor changed the syllabus, so I'm no longer writing responses to most of what I read. I am however, posting reviews on Library Thing under the username cabaty.

I had planned to write a creative response to the book this week, but I can’t do that. This book, Pinned, is terrible. If there weren’t an assignment to write something for this book, I wouldn’t. In general, I don’t like books written in dialect. I generally find it an unnecessary hurdle as a reader. I will read books written in dialect if I must and I will admit that I am usually made better for having done that. There is a reason or message that is made clear through reading something written in dialect. That is not the case with Pinned, which could also be referred to as the worst piece of trash that I have read to date. This piece of pandering drivel is not worth the time I am spending reading it or writing about it. I will admit that it is important for kids to see themselves in books, however the characters presented in this book are insulting to everyone presented. Autumn is an idiot, or a smart enough kid who “just won’t try” and she likes Adonis, even though he’s in a wheelchair. Way to go Autumn! You show those readers that it’s what inside that matters! Ugh. Adonis is an asshole in a wheelchair that needs to learn to be more kind. My goodness, how enthralling. At 53 pages in I am groaning at every other sentence. Now, at page 80 Autumn is going to spend time in the library volunteering to be near Adonis the jerk. Wow. I never saw that coming. Page 146, “As ain’t everything”. This is not a sentence. That doesn’t actually mean anything. I have no idea what this author is attempting to get across with that sentence but, I can’t extract a single meaningful thing. Upon finishing the book, I have marked one line that I liked, “Wrestlers win first in their heads, Coach says. Readers, too, I figure, wondering sometimes if I ain’t my own opponent,” (pg.205). That one line neatly sums up my feelings for this book. I got through it. It took me a lot longer than it should have because I kept allowing myself to get distracted. Maybe I should have read The Chocolate War instead.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Reading Response the Seventh One

This week I have so many reviews! Again no book cover pictures, sorry!

YA Lit Books
If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson
A romance in which a young Jewish girl and a black boy fall in love after literally bumping into each other in their high school's hallway. I kept waiting for the story to start, only to reach the desperate end. A good read if you like thinking, "What? No! Really? No!" at the end of books.

Lena by Jacqueline Woodson
Though easily read, this is not what I would call an easy read. The story of two young girls running away from their abusive father is not lightly told. Woodson draws the attention of readers of varying ages by making the reader feel for the girls in the story. So that my heart would only break a little at a time, rather than all at once, I had to take breaks while reading. Every pain was worth it because I got to be a part of these girls lives and feel their pain, longing and appreciation for bubble baths.

Children's Lit Books
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (poetry)
Beautifully written, this enchanting book puts the reader in the shoes of a young girl of 10 leaving the country that she knows and loves for a new one with a new language. Everything happens over the course of one year; from being home in Vietnam and fleeing to the United States to the beginnings of building a life there. The reader doesn't only travel with Ha, they become one with her heart.

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (graphic novel)
There is so much going on around the preparation for the big musical. Meet Callie, a middle school girl with a love for theatre, and be a part of her life as she navigates set-building, friendships, and possible romances.

El Deafo by Cece Bell (graphic novel)
Feeling alone stinks, feeling alone and different is even worse. At her new school Cece is the only deaf student in her class and she has to wear her super giant Phonic Ear hearing aid strapped to her chest. She soon realizes that her Phonic Ear may actually be like super power and she could be El Deafo! Follow along through the ups and downs of Cece's life as herself and as El Deafo while she tries to find the perfect sidekick.
Old Bear and His Cub written and illustrated by Olivier Dunrea (picture book) Join Old Bear and Little Cub on their day together and feel the love that they share. This story is best read-aloud to someone you love very much.

this Orq. (he cave boy.) written by David Elliott illustrated by Lori Nichols (picture book)
Orq loves Woma, but his mother... not so much. What can be done to make Mother see how amazing Woma can be? Find out in this fun and wildly entertaining read-aloud that will leave kids of different ages smiling.

I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson's Blackboard written and illustrated by Jennifer K. Mann (picture book)
This book is on the short list of my favorite read-aloud's this year. Engaging from start to finish; this book shows that everyone has their talents, they just aren't all the same.

Show Way written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Hudson Talbott (picture book)
In this masterfully told story, the reader is brought along on a journey through history by way a family tree beginning with a many times great-grandmother. Quilting is not a hobby in this book, it's a means of knowing one's history as well as comfort on the path that lies ahead.

Each Kindness written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis (picture book)
A thoughtful book that would be a great read-aloud addition to many lessons. Maya is different from the other kids, everything she has is obviously secondhand and everyone takes notice. The reader is made to watch as Chloe and her friends bully Maya. Maya's desperation for a friend is palpable as is Chloe's regret when Maya stops coming to school. Sometimes amends can not be made, but one can change for the sake of tomorrow. This book will touch anyone's heart and reminds the reader that "Each kindness.... makes the world a little bit better".

Monday, October 5, 2015

This Weeks Reading List (7)

Here's me crossing my fingers hoping I don't just give up and spend the week crying instead. Yay midterms!

YA Lit Books for the Week
If You Come Softly
by Jacqueline Woodson

by Jacqueline Woodson

Children's Lit Books for the Week
Inside Out & Back Again (poetry)
by Thanhha Lai

Drama (graphic novel)
by Raina Telgemeier

El Deafo (graphic novel)
by Cece Bell

Old Bear and His Cub (picture book)
written and illustrated by Olivier Dunrea

this Orq. (he cave boy.) (picture book)
written by David Elliott illustrated by Lori Nichols

I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson's Blackboard (picture book)
written and illustrated by Jennifer K. Mann

Show Way (picture book)
written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Hudson Talbott

Each Kindness (picture book)
written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Response

This response is being posted late because I just finished it yesterday. I had to ask for an extension on this piece because the source material was so close to my heart. A self-assessment of the writing follows the essay.

Through the Labyrinth 
          For any kid on the reservation, life is hard. I was lucky. My parents didn’t drink or do drugs and they made sure that we always had food on the table, even if it was largely government commodities. My dad also went hunting and his friend Leroy always had some venison to share with us. I tend to think my siblings had it a little easier than I did. When they were young, Mom was working and Dad could move around more easily. By the time I finished 7th grade ¾ of my grandparents had passed, Mom had been forced into retirement and Dad was able to do less and less every year because of his disabilities. I got a job when I was 14 to pay for my school lunches and to have a little spending money. I, like Junior, was ashamed of being poor. I made $50 every two weeks and I thought that was amazing. With that money I was able to get the not-cafeteria lunches that I coveted and that was basically all that mattered to me. I had it good, if you’ll forgive the saying. While reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, I found many themes that would be worth mentioning, but the one that meant the most to me was that of hope. It’s about how your life before shapes you into an adult, it’s about losing yourself to find yourself and learning not to be ashamed along the way.
          Hope can be found everywhere in Absolutely True Diary, but it is hidden. That’s how life is on the reservation. Hope is secreted away, locked up, because it is better not to have hope then to be constantly let down. Of course parents want better things for their children, but is it actually possible? Not without help and a push. Mr. P doesn’t exactly have the largest role in the book, if one went by lines mentioned but, he does have one of the most important roles in giving hope.
““Where is hope?” I asked. “Who has hope?” “Son,” Mr. P said. “You’re going to find more and more hope the farther and farther you walk away from this sad, sad, sad reservation.”” (pg.43)
Adults on the reservation hold more power over kids then some readers may realize. This goes beyond rule-making. The adult community on the reservation are Elders and to some extent they are the examples of what is and is not possible. Even with the good examples I had from my parents and my aunts and uncles, I still thought that I was going to spend the rest of my life on or around the reservation. Until I got my push, my Mr. P, my hope. Even then it takes more than a push to get someone going, to get someone out of the rut in which they believe themselves to be stuck. Junior got his help from another teacher, his coach, when he is told that he could play college basketball. “How often does a reservation Indian kid hear that? How often do you hear the words “Indian” and “college” in the same sentence? Especially in my family. Especially in my tribe.” (pg. 180) Here is found the biggest and most beautiful nugget of hope. Not many people who grow up on reservations get the chance to go to college. It’s a dream for some, but often seen as unrealistic. Before I had even finished high school I had decided that college was not for me. I would attend community college like many others and then maybe transfer to State. Transportation proved to be too difficult, so college got put off and a job at the Tribal Office was acquired. Basically unless one does really, really, really amazingly well in high school thus guaranteeing scholarships or a full ride somewhere, they aren’t going to college and I did exactly alright in high school. I did exactly enough work so that I could go on band trips and graduate. My sister was the success, she got the full ride, lived on campus, got her degree, got married and started a family! Junior is like my sister. He is getting support when he needs it and he is getting pushed when he needs it. That’s how hope shines through the fog. Wanting to do better on it’s own is not enough, one needs a hand or two or three to reach out and offer help and support.
          The Absolutely True Diary isn’t just about some kid who grew up on a reservation and is working his way to a better life. It’s about love, family, perseverance, loss, poverty and, above all things, hope. Like many kids growing up on a reservation, Junior doesn’t see much of a life ahead of him. But there is a light inside of him that catches the eye of his teacher, Mr. P, who helps push him towards the path to that something more. Junior’s teacher and coach help him see the possible paths ahead and hope guides Junior like a gold thread through the labyrinth.

Writing Assessment (Probably a lot longer than it should be, I’ll warrant you.)
          I’ve tried to write this paper a couple times (this is my third attempt) and it always came out ugly. I really could not figure out what I was doing wrong. I am pretty good at writing papers, especially if I actually care about the subject matter. Here, I believe it was an issue of being too close to the source material. If I hadn’t grown up on a reservation, maybe this would have come easier to me. While writing this paper I thought to myself how this book would be handled at a reservation high school, or a public high school near a reservation. After much thought, I believe that if this book were taught in a place like that (and it very well should be) that the teacher would not likely ask for a paper on theme, but a reader response paper. The themes would be gone over in class and given individual attention. Trying to detach one’s self enough to write about the themes coherently and not all gobbledygook is one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do as a writer. Still, even though I put so much time and effort into this piece, I don’t think that it is very good. I certainly didn’t follow the assignment as I should have, but I also don’t believe that I am capable of doing anything different or better. This piece is me, for all that I did right and all that I did wrong. I am okay with that. I wrote an honest piece and stayed true to myself.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Reading Response the Sixth One

Our assignment has been changed, so I won't be posting paragraph long responses to the picture books as often, unless I have the time or a book really speaks to me. Starting this week, I will be posting about 5 or 6 (this week it's 7!) books, but I will only be writing a couple sentences about each one. My short reviews and star ratings are posted on LibraryThing, where my handle is cabaty if anyone is interested to see everything I am reading for my YA and Children's Lit classes as well as for pleasure.

I don't have time to post the pictures of each book this week, but hopefully I'll get time to update this later.

Clara and Asha
Everything about this book is beautiful. Imagination is shown playing in every word and every picture. The fun and warmth a child finds in an imaginary friend is very real.

Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros?
What would you do with a pet rhinoceros? This is a very important question and a wonderful one to bring up at a very boring dinner party. Remember, sometimes it's important to take time and just be silly.

Tikki Tikki Tembo I remembered being told this story when I was young. When I see a familiar story for my childhood, I like to pick it up and read it with grown-up eyes. I still giggled. Politeness isn't so important when your brother is drowning.

Knuffle Bunny
No one likes to misplace their best friend and it's even worse when you can't even talk yet! The importance of communication is big part of this lovely and engaging book.

Strega Nona's Gift
Oh, Big Anthony, at least you make amends. This magical book illustrates to children that even when you have done something wrong, you can and should make amends. This book also shows me that I need to read more Strega Nona books.

Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport
Moving can be scary! Especially when you have a lot of wrong ideas about a place! For anyone who has or will move to a new place, you should read this book first. It's terribly easy to make assumptions, but you might end up being way off base. Fear can make anyone believe some pretty silly things.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

This Weeks Reading List (6)

Happy Banned Books Week Nerds!
This week is a little odd, I've got some schedule monsters who not only like to eat my time, they also happen to enjoy confusing me.

YA Lit Books for the Week
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
by Meg Medina
(But only through chapter 6! We're doing the global read aloud, yay!)

Book Love Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent Readers
by Penny Kittle
(Yes, the YA Lit book for the week is one of our main texts, at least it's not too long.)

Children's Lit Books for the Week

Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport (picture book)
written by Weinman Sharmat illustrated by Byron Barton

Strega Nona's Gift (picture book)
by Tomie dePaola

Clara and Asha (picture book)
by Eric Rohmann

The Museum (picture book)
written by Susan Verde illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Knuffle Bunny (picture book)
by Mo Willems

Tikki Tikki Tembo (picture book)
retold by Arlene Mosel illustrated by Blair Lent

Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros? (picture book)
by Shel Silverstein

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Reading Response the Fifth One

I may finally be catching up to myself, but I don't want to get my hopes up.

Reading Response 5: Organization and Style - How do Writers Engage the Reader?

Hana’s Suitcase
by Karen Levine
The book is organized by chapters that move between future and past. This method pushes the story forward so elegantly that I never felt a misstep when moving between the years. Levine manages to pass along important information while simultaneously pulling at my heartstrings so hard that I went through several tissues during my read. I would have lapped up both stories, the one of the Japanese teacher learning of Hana and the story of Hana herself, separately if they had been presented that way. Levine did more than engage me by combining the stories into one winding path, she had me completely enthralled. Her expert use of storytelling left me wanting at the end of every chapter so much so that I could not stop reading for a moment. Every bit of this book shows Levine’s expertise at her craft and reveals the attention that was lovingly planted in every sentence.

Jim Henson: The Guy Who Played with Puppets
written by Kathleen Krull paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
Krull had many acclaimed books, this along with her numerous sources lend credence to her qualifications. We begin our journey by learning of young Jim’s life, which helps to build an immediate connection to a reader young or old. The book is told in chronological order while remaining an engaging story narrative that ends with Jim’s funeral. A few comical facts sprinkled throughout the story keep the book lighthearted. The book is clearly written and can be enjoyed by a wide audience, I would say as young third grade and on up through to sixth grade. It is more than a possibility that older children and adults would find this book informative and fun. Personally, I found it to be lovely.

written by William Miller illustrated by Leonard Jenkins
Miller doesn’t appear to have any qualifications beyond being an author. Neither are there any resources to be found, which brings the accuracy of the book into question. The author’s note refers to this book as, “...a creative attempt to tell [Tituba’s] story and fill in the missing periods of her life,”. It is written at a level that can be understood by young children but, I am unsure as to when this material would be appropriate to be taught. I would not bring it up anytime before the fourth grade. This small piece of Tituba’s life is told as a story narrative with a rightfully gloomy overtone. I found it to be dull and as this book is a creative endeavor based on supposition rather than fact, I do not hold it in high regard as a biography.

Hello, I’m Johnny Cash
written by G. Neri illustrated by A.G. Ford
G. Neri has won awards for their writing and includes a discography as well as a bibliography for this book. That leads me to believe that this book could be used as a means to teach children about the music legend without too much conjecture. The reader is taken on a chronological narrative story from the perspective of Johnny as a young boy through to adulthood. The language level of this book is great for fifth grade on up and I believe that it could be enjoyed by children and young adults. The prose of this book is written as song lyrics would be written in liner notes and each page is titled with a song from Johnny Cash’s library of recordings. Each line drew me in further, willing me to learn more about this man who has been called, “the elder statesman of cool”. This book is insightfully written and the research done shines through on every page.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

This Weeks Reading List (5)

I'm posting this weeks reading list late because I am a terrible person. This week's theme is picture book biographies! My Children's Lit class has too much to cover to focus on banned books, but if I have a free week this semester I will make a banned books reading list.

YA Lit Book for the Week
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Sherman Alexie

Children's Lit Books for the Week
Hana's Suitcase (chapter book)
by Karen Levine

Jim Henson The Guy Who Played with Puppets (picture book)
by Kathleen Krull paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

Tituba (picture book)
written by William Miller illustrated by Leonard Jenkins

You're on Your Way, Teddy Roosevelt (picture book)
written by Judith St. George illustrated by Matt Faulkner

Hello, I'm Johnny Cash (picture book)
written by G. Neri illustrated by A.G. Ford

Out of the Easy Reading Response

I did not care for this book and was distracted with other assignments while working on this one. My lack-luster and frankly bad writing in this piece reflects my feelings about this book.

In Ruta Sepetys’ Out of the Easy, the story is told in first person narrative by the protagonist Josie. Because of her innocence despite being the daughter of a prostitute, the world has a tint of childish hope. As the novel wears on, the hope of young Josie wears thin and she learns that just because someone sees something good in you doesn’t make it true, though neither does it make it not true. Josie is a very reactionary character, life happens to her, until the final several chapters. For what I felt was most of the book, Josie tries to hide, she attempts to hide from herself, Willie, Charlotte, Patrick, Jesse, and everyone else. Josie tries to take shelter in the bookshop, thinking she’s protecting herself behind the walls of books, but books don’t make very good bricks and lies are even worse. Josie’s point of view is difficult to understand at times. She is still a teenager and I am not anymore. When thinking about characterization, I thought about how she describes everyone she comes across. She see’s all of the people in her life through hope filled eyes and it’s sad. She is a child in so many ways, trying to see the best in everyone she likes and the worst in those she doesn’t. Evangeline's description goes back and forth, though just once. The one time Evangeline was kind to Josie, her character changed and suddenly this character I thought to be horrid, was a gem, if only for a moment. I had to remind myself that I was reading a book from the point of view of a teenager and that teens can be fickle. Many of Josie’s problems are caused by her lies. Her lying drives the action. If this story were not told from Josie’s point of view, the reader may have only seen the stupidity of a young woman. There would have been a lot of waiting around for Josie to come to her senses and ask for help, with no pay off. Instead because the story is told by Josie’s point of view, we get to see how her emotions drive her actions. She is a teenager and as such does not take the time to step back and look at what is really going on. She spends much of her time scared and confused, when all she had to do was talk to an adult. If this had been told from any adult's point of view, I’d imagine there would be a lot of head shaking and sighing. Josie is a sweet girl and bright, but asking for help is not one of her strong suits.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Reading Response the Fourth One

This week has been pretty hectic so far and there is always so much more to do. I shortened my response this week simply due to exhaustion.

Reading Response 4: Style

Esperanza Rising 
by Pam Muñoz Ryan
From the very beginning there was something special about Esperanza Rising. Ryan does a great job of pulling the reader in with her style. One of the first things I noticed was the chapter titles. Each chapter notes the type of produce that is in season and thus the passage of time. In this way the reader is made to feel closer to the characters, there are no months just planting and harvesting seasons. I found it to be very clever. Another thing I noticed was the use of Spanish words and phrases sprinkled into the book. These words and phrases usually alongside their English translation showed the reader something new and helped to build stronger relationships between the reader and the characters in the book.

The Lonely Book 
written by Kate Bernheimer and illustrated by Chris Sheban
The writer anthropomorphizes the protagonist book which results in the reader being able to feel empathy for what is usually thought of as an unfeeling object. Through use of her style she gives an inanimate object character and emotion. The book begins like a fairy tale, which immediately grabs the reader’s attention. I actually scooted forward in my chair and leaned in while reading this. Any story that starts with, “Once….” catches me hook, line and sinker. The artist’s style complemented the writing in every way. The artist choose to depict the book as a normal book, not attributing any of the anthropomorphic characteristics that the author shared.

The Serpent Came to Gloucester 
written by M.T.Anderson illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
This tale is truly brought to life by Anderson. The book is written as a long poem with breaks of short, repetitive lists written in italics. Though I sometimes find lists and repetitive word usage to be annoying, in this book it just seemed so natural. Anderson wrote this poem as if someone was reciting it from memory. The artist work also drew me in with their realistic depictions of the fantastic things. Sea serpents and pirates became as real to me as the voice I heard while reading this story.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

This Weeks Reading List (4)

It has come to my attention that I have done a disservice by not mentioning what is being used as textbooks for these classes. 

My Children's Literature source book is:
In Defense of Read-Aloud
by Steven L. Layne

My Adolsent/YA Literature source books are:
Deeper Reading
by Kelly Gallagher
Book Love
by Penny Kittle

With that done, I can move on to my reading list for this week. For my Children's Lit class we didn't have a theme by which we had to choose our books. Yay freedom! Well, a little freedom anyway. As usual there is a required book for Children's Lit and one for YA Lit. It was still really lovely to get to choose a few picture books in my favored way, by roaming the stacks and plucking random titles from the shelf until I have five selected. 

YA Lit book for the week:
Out of the Easy
by Ruta Sepetys

Children's Lit books for the week:
Esperanza Rising (chapter book)
by Pam Muñoz Ryan

On Mothers Lap (picture book)
written by Ann Herbert Scott illustrated by Glo Coalson

The Aunts Go Marching (picture book)
written and illustrated by Maurie J. Manning

The Lonely Book (picture book)
written by Kate Bernheimer illustrated by Chris Sheban

The Serpent Came to Gloucester (picture book)
written by M.T. Anderson illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

Baba Yaga (picture book)
retold and illustrated by Katya Arnold

That's all for this week! Next week is going to be really exciting as it will be my reading list for banned books week!

Jumpstart the World Character Analysis of Molly

Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde

On the assignment I turned into class, this progress statement was included at the end of the character analysis. For this post I have moved it to the beginning to show a little bit into my process for this writing assignment.

I took on this assignment a little differently then I have similar assignments in the past. Normally I don’t go through the draft process, but I really wanted to get my points across in a certain way this time. I wrote my introduction first, straight into word, but for the body paragraphs and conclusion, I first wrote in my notebook and then typed the paper from my notes. Every time I struggled with a sentence, I played with it in my notebook until I got it right. There was something special about this book that made me want to be better and I think it worked.

Molly the Mentor
At first glance Molly may not seem like a very important character in Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book Jumpstart the World but, upon further inspection she shows herself to be a beacon for the protagonist, Elle. In Jumpstart Elle is a young woman on the cusp of 16 who has been forced to move into a new apartment because her mother wants to live alone with her boyfriend. Molly’s boyfriend, Frank, befriends Elle giving her someone to talk to who will really listen for what seems like the first time in her life. Molly only wants what is best for her love and when Elle starts acting distant after learning that Frank is transgender, Molly is upset. It had been bad enough that Elle had a crush on Frank before she knew, but now Elle is hurting Frank without even realizing it. Elle comes back around when Frank is involved in an accident, but Molly is not quite ready to forgive. Molly always shows Elle kindness and when it is taken away Elle realizes her mistake and works to earn Molly’s forgiveness. Without seeing it Elle does most of her learning and growing as a person by following Molly’s example. Molly is Elle’s nearly silent guide throughout the novel, opening Elle’s eyes to the beauty in herself, the wonders of photography and the freedom in forgiveness.
Elle complains to Frank about not being able to fit in at school and blames it on her perceived lack of beauty. Here Molly jumps into her role as mentor and tells Elle that she is beautiful in such a way that Elle actually takes notice, “She said it like she really meant it. Like she believed it. But she was still wrong,” (pg. 53). Elle can not see herself the same way that Molly does. The only way that Elle sees herself at this time is through the superficial gaze of her mother and the normal kids at school. Only Molly can break through the kind of barriers Elle has set up around herself because Elle seldom takes notice of Molly. The best way for Molly to reach Elle is by showing her, and Molly knows that. After retrieving her camera equipment and taking photographs of Elle, it is in the darkroom that Molly’s light really shines. She instructs Elle, “Well, try to get your ideas to loosen up. Try to look at yourself the way you would look at somebody else. Imagine it’s your job to hire a model. Look at these photos and see if you would hire this girl,” (pg.54) Molly practically forces a new perspective on Elle. By giving Elle explicit instructions on how to look at the photographs, Molly proves to Elle that she can be beautiful.
Molly shows Elle her beauty through photography thus spurring a new passion in Elle for the craft. Just after Elle’s 16th birthday she gets a visit from her mother with presents in tow, boxes full of clothes Elle would never wear. Usually, Elle would just let the clothes, “...rot in a drawer,” (pg. 63). This time is different because Molly brought something out of Elle, a wish for something more. Elle makes a decision for herself, “I took it all back. I turned it all in for store credit, and then I bought a 35 mm camera, with two extra lenses --a close-up and a wide-angle-- and a flash, and a tripod, and a light meter, and a book about photography. And I carried it all home,” (pg. 63). As Elle begins to use photography as a way of looking more closely at others, she also becomes able to look more closely at herself. This is all thanks to Molly’s readiness to share her view of Elle. Her reluctant inner monologue explains, “It was this sort of difficult, embarrassing truth that was right there for everybody to see: the fact that my interest in photography probably had its roots in admiring Molly just a little bit. Whether I wanted to admire her or not. Whether I wanted to admit it or not,” (pg. 66). It is obvious to everyone that Elle is following Molly’s example while remaining in love with Frank. Though she feels conflicted, she and the reader must concede that Molly is her guide. Without Molly’s help Elle would have never found her outlet in photography.
Molly teaches Elle many things through Jumpstart, but the most important lesson Elle learns is one of forgiveness. Elle may not have realized it, but she had been hurting Frank by not talking to him once she learned he is transgender. When she suddenly comes around after his accident Molly is angry, but she apologises to Elle anyway. Molly also accepts Elle’s help in looking after Frank at the hospital. Though this is an important making of amends, it isn’t until Elle sees Molly forgive Crazy Harry, that she truly begins to understand how freeing forgiveness can be. Molly explains to Elle, “I know I wouldn’t have said this when it first happened. I would’ve probably taken the guy apart with my bare hands. But, in a way, there’s really nothing to forgive. It was just sort of a freak accident. I mean, all he did was make a sudden noise,” [to which Elle responds] “So you forgive him,” [and Molly says] “Yeah. I guess,” (pg. 150). This apology is a revelation to Elle. She is a young woman who has had to learn a lot in a relatively short amount of time, but she takes in her lessons from Molly and puts them to use. Once Frank is back home Elle asks him, “Do I owe you an apology?”... [Frank responds] “No,” (pg.169). Without Molly having shown her the way, Elle may not have ever asked that question and she certainly would never have put effort into repairing the other relationships in her life.
Molly is the sort of role model that every 16 year old should have. She displays strength, kindness and wisdom in her actions. No matter how Molly feels for a moment, she can’t help but reach out her hands to those in need. She excitedly takes the time to show Elle that she is beautiful by utilizing her skill with photography. When Elle reveals her own interest in photography, Molly is all too happy to help her talent blossom. Though Molly herself struggles with forgiveness, she remains the best example for Elle by apologising to her and forgiving the man that caused Frank’s accident with her watching.  Molly did everything she could to be a good example for Elle to follow. Because of that, Elle was given the tools she needed to grow into an outstanding young adult.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Reading Response the Third One

I've so much to do this week and it's already almost over. Time goes by so fast when I'm busy, I just wish I could have a moment to catch my breath. I did want to take a second this week to ask if anyone would be interested in a weekly read aloud google hangout. I need to practice my read aloud skills before I go in front of a group of students for my field work and I would really love to get some feedback. We could also all take turns reading something aloud, I would find it really helpful to see how other people handle their read aloud time. If you are interested in a read aloud shoot me a message either on google plus or facebook.

Reading Response 3: The effect of point of view and setting on characterization and action
The theme for this week being books taking place in history, made finding books a little difficult, but I managed to find 3 picture books that fit the bill. I added these to my list along with the assigned reading. While reading I tried (without pulling myself out of the story too much) to think about how who is telling the story can change what one gets out of a reading. If it were possible to read a book, finish it and immediately pick it back up and get the same story from another’s point of view how would it affect my feelings and attachments to certain characters and events? I would also like to note that my 3 picture books are all written by Deborah Hopkinson though they are each illustrated by a different person. This also affects how the reader senses characters and setting. Though the voice of the author did not change, the voice of the artist did and brought with them a new element to each of the picture books. I felt a spark in my mind getting to see these different perspectives. I am drawn to this experience and I want to see further how different artists bring to life the author's words.

Miss Spitfire Reaching Helen Keller
by Sarah Miller
This story of Helen Keller’s early education is told from the oft forgotten view of the teacher. I never thought about Helen’s teacher before reading this book and I found the experience fascinating. Annie’s motivations are completely different than anyone else that could tell this story. Annie’s story gives insight into the gauntlet that teaching can be when proper support is not readily available. It’s not only Annie’s voice that changes the perception of the over-told water story, the change of setting allows the reader not only to see Annie in a new light but, also Helen, the rest of her family and the boy who works in the little house. Because of this setting change the reader is given the gift of an inside looking out perspective. The doting parents one meets in the big house are revealed to be coddling and thusly blockading Helen into a life of solitude. If it had been someone from Helen’s family as the voice of the story, I’m sure that Annie would have been painted as a deranged abuser. Though her tactics are terrible, they are a mark of the time and must be seen as such. Ultimately I found this book a surprisingly quick read, I took it in large chunks so as to properly digest each piece, very much unlike Helen and her cake.

A Packet of Seeds
written by Deborah Hopkinson illustrated by Bethanne Andersen
This story is told from the view of a loving daughter and leads the reader from heartbreak to healing. In a time when many families are picking up and heading west towards the plains, the father of this family of four decides it is time for them to do the same. The devastation of the mother is shown through the daughter’s eyes. And in their new home on the prairie, it only gets worse when what would now be called postpartum depression sets in on the young mother. The setting is what guides this book, it’s first change is the catalyst of heartbreak and it’s second change ringing with the familiarity of far away friends and their flowers brings the beginning of healing and hope. I found this book particularly upsetting because it was told from the view of the daughter, but it would have been ever so much more heart wrenching had it been told by the point of view of the father or mother. They are at the heart of this very grown up problem and the innocence of the young girl dulls the sensation of despair.

Apples to Oregon
written by Deborah Hopkinson illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
This book was just lovely. It was fun and bouncy to the point where you could almost feel as if you, yourself were in the wagon bumping along to Portland, OR. As told from the perspective of a little girl, apple-y named Delicious, the reader is set off on an adventure with a fruit farmer and his family. Through the girl’s eyes we are shown just how much this young one believes her father loves the trees more than anything else, including his own wife and children. With each change of setting comes a new thing for the children to give up for their father's beloved trees, boots, clothes, pots and pans, nothing is out of bounds. It’s almost sad, until we see the father's perspective. If the entire books were from his view, we would see a man who only wants the best for his family and as soon as he is able, he gives it to them.

A Boy Called Dickens
written by Deborah Hopkinson illustrated by John Hendrix
A narrator tells the story of young Charles Dickens who, with his family in debtors prison, must care for himself. Though the reader learns of Dickens hardships and dreams, more of a connection could be made if told from the child’s view. The settings do well to add to the understanding of Dickens’ early life., giving not just places for the story to be held, but the feelings that go along with them. Each setting is so wonderfully and simply explained, that I nearly felt myself in those places. They brought me closer and helped me to empathize with Dickens.