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.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

This Weeks Reading List (3)

This weeks theme for my Children's Lit class is historical/historical fiction with a focus on picture books. I had a bit of trouble finding books that both fit the theme and were interesting to me, but as always, I muddle through.

Children's Literature
Miss Spitfire Reaching Helen Keller (chapter book)
by Sarah Miller

A Packet of Seeds
written by Deborah Hopkinson illustrated by Bethanne Anderson

A Boy Called Dickens (picture book)
written by Deborah Hopkinson illustrated by John Hendrix

Apples to Oregon (picture book)
written by Deborah Hopkinson illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

The Gold Miners Daughter (picture book)
written by Jackie Mims Hopkins illustrated by Jon Goodell

Read Aloud Book for Children's Literature
Have You Ever Seen a Sneep? (picture book)
written by Tasha Pym illustrated by Joel Stewart

YA Literature
Jumpstart The World
by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Reading Response the Second One

I learned this week, that I do not need to write about EVERY book I read or have read to me. Lovely. So, this week I only wrote about 3 of the books I read because honestly, that took long enough. I will be keeping up with every book on Library Thing. In that way I'll be able to keep a running total of books for the semester. Yay! Also different from last time is that I opted not to write an intro to my response for the assignment.

Reading Response 2: How Main Characters Drive Plot Points
by Jewell Parker Rhodes
In Sugar we follow a 10 year old girl of the same name in 1870 Louisiana while she works on a sugarcane plantation. Since the story is written in the first person, one gets a deep insight into her wants. Sugar wants nothing more than to not live at River Road anymore. She dreams of adventure and of a really free life up North. Sugar drives the plot as any 10 year old kid, she wants to play! Her choice of friends causes problems since he’s the plantation owners son, but she doesn’t care until she sees that is causes problems for others. No matter what Sugar wants, she’s not going to get it at the expense of the people who care for her. Sugar sees the world differently than the adults around her and wants them to see as well. She wants to make friends with everyone including the new Chinese workers and does. The plot weaves around Sugar’s life as she remembers her lost mother, and her father who had been sold before the end of slavery. The reader grows with Sugar as she learns that just because grown-ups say something is wrong doesn’t mean that is actually is. She shows the reader as well as the other characters in the book that learning and growing as a person is important. Sugar pushes through every boundary, and she keeps pushing all the way North.

The Scar
written by Charlotte Moundlic illustrated by Olivier Tallec
The main character in The Scar is a young boy who has just lost his mother. This book takes us through his actions and emotions as he learns to deal with the stress of losing a parent. We can’t help, but feel everything that the boy is feeling, the anger at his mother for leaving him and his father alone, the sadness that she’ll never return and the longing for the past. We are also taken on another journey with the child, the journey of healing. The boy is starting to forget, smells, looks, and sounds of his mother. He gets hurt one day and hears the voice of his mother, as long as he can keep the scab open, he’ll hear her. The scar is a reminder of his mother’s love and warmth, as it heals so does the boy. Though still scared of losing his mother, his grandmother tells him that his mother will always be in his heart. This reminds both boy and reader that one never completely loses anyone and the boy and the reader learn that pain and remembering a lost one do not have to walk hand in hand forever.

Private and Confidential A Story About Braille
written by Marion Ripley illustrated by Colin Backhouse
Laura doesn’t seem to lead her story so much as ask for help around every corner. Laura wants very badly to get a letter in the mail and luckily her teacher has just set up a pen pal program with a school in Australia. What I do love about this book is that it shows the simple joy we rarely get anymore, receiving a letter in the mail. It’s almost magical, having to wait so long to get the letter and then writing back and waiting again. Laura’s pen pal, Malcolm, is almost completely blind and becomes unable to write to Laura, but she won’t give up that easily. Laura does lead her plot, in a way. She is unwilling to let a thing like blindness get in the way of writing to her friend and by asking for help instead of giving up, she shows the reader that maybe we could all do a little more.