Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
In the note at the back of the book, I discovered that author Verna Aardema is a highly acclaimed storyteller and the author of many books of African folktales. "This tale was discovered in Kenya, Africa more than seventy years ago by Sir Claud Hollis, a famous anthropologist. He camped near the Nandi village and learned the native language from two boys. He learned riddles and proverbs from the Nandi children, and most of the folktales form the Chief Medicine Man. This tale reminded Sir Claud of a cumulative nursery rhyme that he loved as a boy in England, "The House That Jack Built." So he decided to call the story "The Nandi House That Jack Built" and included it in his book "The Nandi: Their Language and Folklore, published in 1909. Verna Aardema has brought the originial story closer to the English nursery rhyme by putting in a cumulative refrain and giving the tale the rhythm of "The House That Jack Built."
Aardema's repetitive phrase "that needed the rain from the cloud overhead--the big, black cloud all heavy with rain, that shadowed the ground on Kapiti plain" is found throughout each of the story's rhythmic plot. Each event occurs, the text builds upon one another, similarly in The House That Jack Built. The rhyming scheme and predictability allow for readers to closely follow the adventure and challenge that awaits Ki-Pat throughout the duration of the drought. The illustrations by Beatriz Vidal demonstrate the types of diverse animals that live in Africa, such as cows, giraffes, lions, rhinos, zebras, antelope, buffalo, cheetahs, leopards, etc. The culture, appearance, and tradition of the Nandi people are also touched on in this story, and can provide the opportunity for further research into this part of Kenya.
Reading Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain allowed for me to further evaluate lack of exposure to multicultural literature, especially folktales. Having read The House That Jack Built, this African folktale gave an interesting and unique twist to the English nursery rhyme, while also keeping true the Nandi traditions. Despite differences in folktales within the world, these oral traditions continue to be passed down from one generation to the next, while readers remain entertained and take away a valuable lesson or morale from the story. And just as little Ki-Pat did, too, tends the cows on Kapiti Plain, after being guided by his father by his own experiences and stories.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Kathryn Brown's watercolor illustrations aid in the quirkiness and somewhat peculiar thought process of the old woman. In a review by Publisher's Weekly, "the unlikely protagonist of this quirky and tenderhearted story is a litte old lady with cat glasses and a beehive who might have stepped out into the Far Side." The Far Side, I couldn't agree more.
The Old Woman Who Named Things creates the opportunity to teach students on how to identify thoughtshots that authors use in stories. Rylant uses this writing concept of thoughtshots effectively in TOWWNT. In the lesson plan, "Thoughtshots Bring Your Characters to Life," (http://www.readwritethink.org/) instructional plans identify three different types of thoughtshots used in TWOWNT.
- Internal dialogue/flash-ahead: It was a very pretty puppy, she thought. But it couldn't stay.
- Internal dialogue: The old woman sat and thought about the shy brown dog who had no collar with a name...
- Flashback: The old woman thought a moment. She thought of the old, dear friends with the names whom she had outlived.
It is through these thoughtshots that Rylant is able to communicate just how believable and real the character of the old woman truly is, while making the story much more interesting to her readers. The instructional plans also use the story An Angel for Solomon Singer, as Rylant uses the same concept of thoughtshots throughout this story. Isn't it interesting that both of these characters longed for some kind of companionship, and found it in the end!?
The Old Woman Who Named Things is a story that will allow you to empathize with the old woman's need for companionship, although her quirky naming of her house, car, chair are quite creative. In the end, she realizes that taking the risk is well worth gaining the company of Lucky. I believe that readers both young and old will be fully satisfied with the story's happy ending knowing that the old woman will never feel alone again.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
After reading, I found in a Q&A inteview session on his website. Fleischman was asked, "Why do you write poems with more than one voice? Fleischman's response: "If I could, I'd write music rather than books. Alas, I don't have that talent--but writing multi-voice poetry at least gives me a taste. Playing in a recorder consort in college led me toward those poems as well. I loved being part of a group. I've tried to bring that feeling of interplay and joyful collaboration into the poetry."
The emotions resonating throughout each poem in Joyful Noise vary - some sad, loud, quiet; however, each share a common characteristic as they make "booming, boisterous, joyful noise." Before reading the poetry collection, I thought to myself - Yuck! Poems about insects. However, as you read poem after poem the insects take on more of a human-like persona as you get to know their distinct personalities, habits, practices, and functions in our environment. This is constructed through personification and imagery. In the poem Fireflies, Fleischman describes them as "insect calligraphers, practicing penmanship, copying sentences." He also uses alliteration - "fireflies, flickering, flitting, flashing...glimmering, gleaming, glowing." A comparison using a similie, for example, is also demonstrated in the line, "Signing the June nights, as if they were paintings." All of these literary techniques aid in the overall rhythm, flow, and clarity in the content of the poem that also allows for the reader to visualize what is happening line by line.
One thing is for sure - you cannot get the same effect of reading this independently as you would with a partner, reciting it from beginning to end. So, I decided to listen to Joyful Noise on audio. And what a difference it made!! Narrators Melissa Hughes and Scott Snively recite each poem and with such energy and enthusiasm that bring these creepy, crawly creatures to life!
Illustrator Eric Beddows aids to the realistic adventure that the reader travels through while reading each poem. Each insect's composition, line, and shape add to its realistic form, while also creating a sense of movement on each page. Beddows also added a comical sense to the poems - for example, in the poem Honeybees, the queen bee is lounging on what looks like a chaise lounge, complementing the lines, "I'm up at dawn guarding, the hive's narrow entrance..."then I put in an hour making wax without two minutes' time to sit and still relax." This also compliments Fleischman's technique of personification.
Poetry is type of writing that expresses feelings. I believe that Fleischman did it an outstanding job in being able to capture the essence of each insect, while allowing for readers to explore and learn about their individual characteristics, purposes, and states of being. I gained a greater apprecitation for the subject matter as well as for the author. His literary techniques kept me interested and invested in his poems; in addition to the fluctuation of first to third-person narration without, you keep wondering what will happen next! Similar to Bull Run and Seedfolks, Fleischman interconnects his characters by giving their perspective, thoughts, and feelings.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
As Fleischman states at the end of the book, Bull Run can be used in class as a Readers Theatre, while allowing students to closely examine each of the roles and deciding on how to best effectively express each of their accounts based on what is happening in the story. This also allows for students to think critically about their character's involvement and take their own stance about what occurred at Bull Run. A review by Children's Literature states, "This unforgettable lesson encourages youngsters to approach a situation with the knowledge that there are more than two sides to each story; there are as many accounts as there are witnesses. This book will provide insight as well as fine material for student drama."
My only setback in this story was that I found myself rereading frequently throughout the story as Fleischman jumped back and forth in action from character to character. On my post it, I wrote down each character's names and jotted a few notes beside it - N for Northerner, S for Southerner, and a small detail that could help me recall what had last happened. I could see this being frustrating to children as they read the story, as I felt lost at times because by the time you get back to a certain character, the previous events were easily forgotten. If completing this in a guided reading setting, I would create a chart of the characters and make notes next to each of the names in order for us to recall what happened previously in the story. I found many kids who reviewed this book to be confused by this fluctuation in characters and this being a repeated opinion amongst many of them. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/116950.Bull_Run
When beginning the story, I thought Fleischman's writing style would be similar to how it was represented in Seedfolks and how each character had one chapter each; however, Bull Run was deceptively different. It just goes to show that Fleischman's writing style is not a one size fits all approach; perhaps this is why he is is such an outstanding children's author!
Friday, April 2, 2010
In an end of the book interview, Rylant claims, "I do try to imagine what someone might feel. I needed a lot of empathy to write a war story--empathy for fear and pain." My emotions were instantly invested in the story, as I sympahized with the ordeals of all of the characters as we see the world through their own eyes. John's written account 50 years after his return from war, reflect the heartbreak and suffering that he experienced as if it had happened yesterday. The use of descriptive details and imagery allow you to feel as if you are right there on the front lines of war with John and his infantry unit. "Numbed by the horror of what he sees and does, John realizes that he is fighting only to keep himself and his fellow soldiers alive. "We were the ghosts of boys and we had come to believe in nothing but each other."
Four years after enlisting, John finally returns home. He realizes that he has very little in common with other people who did not fight in the war. Would there be anyone who could possibly understand what he went through over there? Ultimately, I thought John would tell of how he was reunited with Ginny, yet he didn't go to find her. Was he afraid that the man he'd become would not be able to give Ginny the life that they dreamed of years ago? I wanted to shout at him and tell him he was a fool for not going after her. But his experiences on the front lines changed his life forever, stealing his youth, creating a distance between himself and his loved ones, and forever altering his perception of the world in which he lived. The message at the end of the book to Ginny states, "I want you to know that I am really alive. And I still love you." It truly hurts to know that they will never reunite, but shows just how powerful their love for one another once was and that even the war had not changed his feelings towards Ginny.
I thought Rylant did a remarkable job in detailing the harsh realities of war and how it affected the lives of soldiers, like John Dante, for the rest of their lives. These were such young boys who hadn't experienced the smallest things that we take for granted today. Were they ready to take on such an important role? They were just kids when they left, but many returned men who were unable to fit into the place that they once called home.
Throughout the year, my class writes letters to World War II lveterans that live in Virginia. We write back and forth to one another. My students look forward to their letters as I know that the veterans enjoy the company of a pen-pal writing. They are very proud of their accomplishments and have sent pictures of themselves in uniform, in the past and present. I know that our letters give these men the company and support that they deserve, and just knowing how much we appreciate their sacrifices must mean the world to them. And we will never be able to truly describe how much that means to us and our nation.