Monthly Archives: September 2015

#GN Celebration: Gaijin. American Prisoner of War. by Matt Faulkner

 

 

I’m happy to join the celebration of graphic novels, especially since I’m finding it a form that can discuss interesting topics in complex ways and, happily, appeal to readers of many different strengths and interests. Instead of only focusing on  non fiction (as per my usual), I’ve found  this “based on true historical event” graphic novel that has much to offer in terms of American history and the frailities of human nature.

Gaijin by Matt Faulkner relates the travails of Koji, a biracial teenage boy living in San Francisco, sent to an internment camp shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Within the closed confines of the camp, Koji sees a society under pressure with resulting discrimination,  bullying, and hatred. Seeing these people turn on each other offers great discussion possibilites about peer pressure , ethics, and morality of both individuals and society at large.

The graphic novel format makes it a relatively quick read.  It  could be a greast choice for a reader who is interested in war and history but might not be convinced to try an in depth history–yet.

Grades 5 and up.

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Finding An Enormous Smallness in a Mentor Text

I’ve been stuck in my own writing quick a bit lately. So I try to keep reading non fiction because I believe fervently in the value of  mentor texts Yesterday I picked up Enormous Smallness. A Story of E. E. Cummins by Matthew Burgess

After the first page I thought, “very nice writing.” After the third page I thought, “that’s the form I’ve been trying to figure out for the second line of my first paragraph.” Yes! And then took notes. So glad I picked up this book.

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Nerding Out over The Birds of America

I’m a big Gary D. Schmidt fan, with Okay For Now being one of my favorites.

Thus I totally nerded out when I saw The Birds of America by John James Audubon. For $3.00!

 

Now I, too, can examine the Artic Tern. Talk about literature expanding one’s horizons.
2015-09-19 12.11.09

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My Favorite YA of the Year: Stand-Off by Andrew Smith

I’ve struggled with the YA (Young Adult) category before and often considered it to be read by much younger children than it’s marketed for. But here’s a YA book that I think is both appropriate and appealing to high school teenagers. The issues are real, the writing is superb, the intensity is enjoyable but not overwhelming. There are so many things to discuss in this book that I think it would make a fantastic book group choice for kids, students and teachers.

This is a sequel to Winger which I liked but not as strongly and urgently. Definitely an enjoyable read and a necessary one to read before Stand-Off. But this book is really exceptional and I praise Andrew Smith for such powerful and meaningful writing.

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The Great Molasses Flood Of 1919

I love when a student is reading something that sparks their interest enough that they want to share it and talk about it. One student is reading the “I Survived” series of Five true diasters. One of these is the Great Molases Flood of 1919 which my student started to describe in excited detail. I had never heard of this, so I was excited by his rendition and promised to “google it.” And so I did, and he was right. Fascinating stuff!

https://www.bostonglobe.com/specials/2013/01/09/the-great-molasses-flood/heeUnfTFQWFHbNVpH5Vv0K/story.html

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Philosophy For Kids

I had the chance to speak with someone recently about how much I like the idea of teaching philosophy to kids through children’s books. Specifically, I appreciate the work of Thomas Wartenberg, both his book and the wealth of material on his website. If anyone in the NYC area is interested in creating such a project, please contact me.

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