Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Culture 6-Reaching For Sun

Culture 6: Inclusive Literature














Bibliography
Zimmer, Tracie Vaughn. 2007. Reaching for Sun. New York: Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children’s Books. ISBN: 9781599900377




Plot Summary
Josie is tired of people noticing her disability before they notice her. She’s a smart, sassy, caring, loving and giving young adult who is just searching for someone else to understand her. She feels like her mother constantly nags her, that her gran is sometimes too critical and she never knew her father. One day a new kid named Jordan moves into her neighborhood and that’s when things start to change!




Critical Analysis
Reaching for Sun is a verse novel told from the perspective of the main character Josie Wyatt. Josie was born with cerebral palsy which has caused her to have a disability on one side of her body as well as having a difficulty pronouncing certain words and speaking in general. Because of this disability she is slightly self conscious at school due to the constant taunts and snide remarks from her fellow classmates. At home she is able to be herself and we actually see a different side of her when the poems are set at home with her gran and mom or at Lazy Acres which Josie states “ It’s the only place where I don’t stick out like a dandelion in purple petunia patch…”.




The book is set by the seasons of the year and before each section there is a quote about that season. There is also the bud of a flower drawn on page 3 that eventually turns into a beautiful, fully bloomed flower by the end of the book on page 181. If one were to thumb the pages like that of a flip book, they would see this bud evolve into the flower much like we saw Josie grow throughout the story. I like how it discussed how her disability didn’t make her retarded like all the kids at school thought she was and her new friend Jordan even exclaims that that’s ridiculous that people think that way because she knows lots of stuff! It’s important that we educate our children about other people’s challenges so that they are aware and don’t react in fear or stupidity as many people do when faced with things they know nothing about.




I really enjoyed this book and think that it would be an enjoyable and educational book for young adults to read. The verse poetry makes it fun and the style in which the character tells “her story” makes it realistic to those reading it. I actually like this style of writing very much and was first introduced to it through Sonya Sones books! I would love to add this type of literature to my collection.




Review Excerpts




School Library Journal ReviewGrade 7 Up—Josie, a girl with cerebral palsy, lives on the shrinking farmland owned by her family for generations and now being sold to developers. Her mother works and attends college and her grandmother tends her diminished patch of land. The story is told in the seventh-grader's voice in a series of free-verse poems. She is a bright and wry narrator, acutely aware of her limitations and her strengths. When Jordan, wealthy but neglected by his widowed father, moves into a mansion behind her farmhouse, they discover a common love of nature and science, and Josie finally has a real friend. She and her grandmother are both passionate about plants and gardening, and Zimmer does a nice job integrating botanical images throughout the novel. Josie feels like a "dandelion in a purple petunia patch" and thinks, "I must be a real disappointment—/stunted foliage,/no yield." Through growing maturity and Granny's wisdom, she gains confidence in herself. Reaching for Sun will have wide appeal for readers of diverse ability. Reluctant readers will be attracted to the seeming simplicity of the text, with short chapters and lots of white space on the page. They may not even realize that they are reading poetry. More sophisticated readers will find added enjoyment as they begin to appreciate the poetic structure and imagery. Readers of all levels will enjoy spending time with Josie and may gain an increased awareness of what it's like to live with a disability.—Nancy Brown, Fox Lane High School, Bedford, NY Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.




Booklist Review



As if seventh grade weren't enough of a challenge for anyone, Josie also struggles with cerebral palsy, social isolation, a mom she needs more time and support from, and monster bulldozers that are carving up the countryside to build huge homes around her family's old farmhouse. Enter new neighbor Jordan, a sensitive kid whose geeky, science-loving ways bring a fun spirit of discovery into Josie's days. He melds with her and her family, especially the warm and wise Gram, and the friends create a kind of magic as they conduct all kinds of plant and pond experiments. Further challenges face Josie when Gram becomes ill and Jordan goes off to camp. Then, risking her mom's wrath, Josie secretly ditches her hated therapy sessions; when mother and daughter eventually reconcile, Josie emerges from her rough patch in a believable and transforming way. Written in verse, this quick-reading, appealing story will capture readers' hearts with its winsome heroine and affecting situations. Anne O'Malley




Connections
Other books by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
The Floating Circus. ISBN: 1599901854



42 Miles. ISBN: 0618618678



Sketches From a Spy Tree. ISBN: 0618234799






Awards
Reaching For Sun- Schneider Family Book Award Winner

Culture 6- Ask Me No Questions

Culture 6: Inclusive Literature




Bibliography
Budhos, Marina. 2006. Ask Me No Questions. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 9781416903512.



Plot Summary
Nadira and her family live in constant fear. Originally from Bangladesh, her family immigrated to New York City with dreams of becoming United States citizens one day. This dream becomes almost unobtainable after the events of 9/11 occur and everyone views those of the Muslim faith as terrorists! Nadira and her family flee the country to Canada only to be sent back to New York minus her father. Nadira, though young and very scared, must step up in her family’s time of need to try and keep everyone together.



Critical Analysis
Ask Me No Questions is an emotionally riveting story about how difficult life can be for those trying to become U.S. Citizens, specifically after the events of 9/11. The story actually begins a little slower than what most readers would typically enjoy, but it seems to be imperative to the overall plot of the story because we learn so much about Nadira’s family and their culture. Cultural markers that are mentioned include the names of characters like: Abba, Mr. Rashid, Nadira etc.; the author also notes many words from the Bangali language such as: shada-chele, moori, kurta and shalwar karmeez. Some of these words mentioned also indicate the type of cuisine had by those in Bangladesh and the type of clothing they wear.



This story keeps the reader in suspense because as they come to know Nadira and her family they feel like they are actually part of the story. It was interesting to read about how many illegal immigrants there were in “hiding” in the United States and the constant feel of apprehension that most of these families feel because they fear being discovered and being deported back to their home country. This book is definitely an eye opener to the experiences that people suffer and endure to make a better life for themselves and gain freedom. It also helps the readers see that not all people from a Muslim background are terrorists or “bad guys” and that it is even harder for them to survive in a country where they are constantly being ridiculed for events they had nothing to do with. I wouldn’t mind having this book or others like it in my collection so that my students could learn about 9/11 and the Muslim culture from a different perspective and see what it’s like to walk in the shoes of someone from that culture who is only trying to make a better life for themselves here.



Review Excerpts



School Library Journal ReviewGrade 7-10-As part of a U.S. government crackdown on illegal immigration after 9/11, Muslim men were required to register with the government and many were arrested because their visas had long-since expired. Families who had lived and worked in this country were suddenly and forcibly reminded of their illegal status without any likelihood of changing it. For 18-year-old Aisha Hossain, this means the end of her dream of going to college to become a doctor. For 14-year-old Nadira, her younger sister and the story's narrator, it means coming out from behind the shadow of her perfect older sister to reveal her own strength and find a way to reunite her nearly shattered family. Immigrants from Bangladesh, the Hossains have lived illegally in New York for years, their visa requests handled by a series of dishonest or incompetent lawyers and mired in the tortuous process of bureaucratic red tape. Following their father's arrest and detention, the teens put together the documentation and make a case that requires the judges to see them as individuals rather than terror suspects. The author explains their situation well, but the effect is more informational than fiction. Nadira and Aisha are clearly drawn characters, but they don't quite come alive, and their Bangladeshi-American background is more a backdrop than a way of life. Still, this is an important facet of the American immigrant experience, worthy of wider attention.-Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD



Connections
Other books by Marina Budhos



Tell Us We’re Home. ISBN:0618574921


House of Waiting. ISBN: 0964129221


Sugar Changed the World. ISBN: 1442421282

Websites with Activities, Games and Lesson Plans:
http://www.marinabudhos.com/
http://bookwizard.scholastic.com/tbw/viewWorkDetail.do?workId=1227852
http://books.simonandschuster.com/Ask-Me-No-Questions/Marina-Budhos/9781416903512



Awards



Ms. Budhos has received an emma (Exceptional Merit Media Award), a Rona Jaffe Award for Women Writers, and a Fellowship from the New Jersey Council on the Arts. She has been a Fulbright Scholar to India, given talks throughout the country and abroad, and is currently on the faculty of the English Department at William Paterson University. "Marina Budhos (Author of Ask Me No Questions)." Share Book Recommendations With Your Friends, Join Book Clubs, Answer Trivia. Web. 03 Aug. 2011. .

Culture 6- In Our Mothers' House

Culture 6: Inclusive Literature




Bibliography
Polacco, Patricia. 2009. In Our Mothers’ House. New York: Philomel Books. ISBN: 9780399250767



Plot Summary
This is the unique story of a unique family that has two mothers! Despite all of the families differences and the criticism they receive from neighbors, they never waiver on their love for one another. Their house is one of laughter, love, adventures, and the making of many great memories! What more could anyone ask for?



Critical Analysis
The story begins with the author introducing each of Meema and Marmee’s adopted children and the story is actually “told” by the eldest whose name is never mentioned. She then goes on to describe how different her two mothers are and how well they complement each other and the family. It’ a story about family, diversity, acceptance and building relationships. There is a multitude of diversity and cultural references mentioned and illustrated in this story. The first example is that each child this couple adopted is of a different race except for the last child and she was drawn with vivid red hair which could also be considered a minority because of how rare true redheads are. The second is when they build the tree house in the backyard and all the neighbors come to help with the construction. The characters are shown in many different colors and seem to represent many different ethnicities. The third example is when Marmee organized the community block party and the author mentions all the different neighbors names like the McGuires, the Goldsteins, the Abdullas, the Mardicians, the Barbers, the Polos and their grandfather whom they called Nonno (their Italian grampa). In addition to all the diverse names mentioned the author also notes many different dishes from a variety of cultures such as stuffed grape leaves, ground lamb, spanakopita, Greek salads, hummus, spaghetti and fried schnitzel.



This story never actually develops a plot. It is more about the memories of these three children and that their childhood was no different, if not happier, from anyone else’s childhood who grew up with a mother and a father instead of two mothers. From the narrators point of view it appears that these children were loved unconditionally, were happy, and were not without anything they needed physically or emotionally. The story ends showing and telling what became of each of the children and the mothers. The children all grew up to become succsseful in the fields of medicine, engineering and fashion and showed all of them in heterosexual marriages. The mothers grew old together, played with their grandchildren and died happy. It’s a perfect example of what we imagine a happy family to look and act like.



I wasn’t too sure how I was going to react or feel about this book before I started reading it, but I laughed and smiled the entire time I was reading it and actually cried at the end because it was such a wonderful story. I would be proud to have this as part of my collection and really feel like there should be more books like this included in our collections because of how diverse our students families may be.

Review Excerpts
School Library Journal ReviewGrade 1–4—This gem of a book illustrates how love makes a family, even if it's not a traditional one. The narrator, a black girl, describes how her two Caucasian mothers, Marmee and Meema, adopted her, her Asian brother, and her red-headed sister. She tells about the wonderful times they have growing up in Berkeley, CA. With their large extended family and friends, they celebrate Halloween with homemade costumes, build a tree house, organize a neighborhood block party, and host a mother-daughter tea party. The narrator continually reinforces the affectionate feelings among her mothers and siblings, and the illustrations depict numerous scenes of smiling people having a grand time. Most of the neighbors are supportive, except for one woman who tells Marmee and Meema, "I don't appreciate what you two are." Eventually, the children grow up, marry heterosexual spouses, and return home to visit their aged parents with their own children. Is this an idealized vision of a how a gay couple can be accepted by their family and community? Absolutely. But the story serves as a model of inclusiveness for children who have same-sex parents, as well as for children who may have questions about a "different" family in their neighborhood. A lovely book that can help youngsters better understand their world.—Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved



Booklist Review


The oldest of three adopted children recalls her childhood with mothers Marmee and Meema, as they raised their African American daughter, Asian American son, and Caucasian daughter in a lively, supportive neighborhood. Filled with recollections of family holidays, rituals, and special moments, each memory reveals loving insight. At a school mother-daughter tea, for instance, the mothers make their first ever appearance in dresses. The narrator recalls, “My heart still skips a beat when I think of the two of them trying so hard to please us.” Only a crabby neighbor keeps her children away from their family. Meema explains, “She’s afraid of what she cannot understand: she doesn’t understand us.” The energetic illustrations in pencil and marker, though perhaps not as well-rendered as in some previous works, teem with family activities and neighborhood festivity. Quieter moments radiate the love the mothers feel for their children and for each other. Similar in spirit to the author’s Chicken Sunday, this portrait of a loving family celebrates differences, too. Pair this with Arnold Adoff’s Black Is Brown Is Tan (2002), Toyomi Igus’ Two Mrs. Gibsons (1996), or Natasha Wing’s Jalapeno Bagels (1996) for portraits of family diversity. Grades 1-4. --Linda Perkins



Connections
Other books by Patricia Polacco:



Thank You , Mr. Falker. ISBN: 0399237321


Junkyard Wonders. ISBN: 0399250786


Thunder Cake. ISBN: 0698115813



Websites with Activities, Games and Lesson Plans:
http://twolesbianmoms.com/
http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/sexuality/teaching_children_healthy_sexuality.aspx
http://www.ivillage.com/study-kids-lesbian-moms-do-just-fine-0/6-a-192278
Awards
1988 Sydney Taylor Book Award
The Keeping Quilt1989 International Reading Association AwardRechenka’s Eggs
March 10th 1990 Santa Clara Reading CouncilAuthor’s Hall of Fame
Commonwealth Club of CaliforniaRecognition of Excellence1990 Babushka’s Doll1992 Chicken Sunday Nov. 14th 1992
1992 Society of Children’s Book Writers and IllustratorsGolden Kite Award for IllustrationChicken Sunday
1992 Boston Area Educators for Social ResponsibilityChildren’s Literature and Social Responsibility Award
Nov. 9th 1993 Jane Adams Peace Asoc. and Women’s Intl. Leaguefor Peace and FreedomHonor award to Mrs. Katz and Tush for it’s effective contribution to peace and social justice.
Parent’s Choice Honors1991 Some Birthday1997 Video/ Dream Keeper1998 Thank You Mr. Falker
1996 North Dakota Library Association Children’s Book AwardMy Rotten Red Headed Older Brother
1996 Jo Osborne AwardFor Humor in Children’s Literature
1997 Missouri Association of School LibrariansShow Me Readers Award for My Rotten Red Headed Older Brother
1997 West Virginia Children’s Book AwardPink and Say
1998 Mid -South Independent Booksellers for ChildrenHumpty Dumpty Award

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Culture 5-The Rainbow Hand

Culture 5: Asian-Pacific American Literature



Bibliography

Wong, Janet S. 1999. The Rainbow Hand:Poems About Mothers and Children. Ill. By Jennifer Hewitson. New York: Margaret K. McElderberry Books. ISBN: 0689821484

Plot Summary

A poetry book about mothers and their children, this book was inspired by the author’s own memories and experiences both as a child with her mother and as a mother to her son. Each poem is about a different subject, some are from the perspective of the mother, while some are from the perspective of the child. All of the poems share the same common theme of the relationship between a mother and her child.

Critical Analysis

This poetry book is all about the relationships that are shared between mothers and their children. Each poem talks of a different experience they have had from relying on their mother to lookout for them, and having to eat meatloaf over and over to plucking out the white hairs on her mothers head, and gifts that only a mother could truly appreciate! While this book was not specifically written about Asian Americans, every now and again you would see a word, phrase or name that can be identified with the Asian culture. For example, on page 11, it says “She stops eating duck skin,” the poem on page 12 is titled “Old Mother Chung,” and on page 12 is the word “Oxtail.” Since duck and oxtail are something that are commonly eaten by Asians and Chung is a common Asian name it is easy to see that this book was written by an author of that culture. In addition to these words, many of the illustrations so characters with facial features commonly associated with those of Asian descent. The illustrations are whimsical and fun and seem to portray the meaning of the poems well. I especially like the illustration on page 8 of The Rainbow Hand. The way her hand is drawn and the way the colors of the rainbow were colored on it really make it look like a rainbow! The rest of the colors in the illustration are slightly muted so to really emphasize on her hand.

I really enjoyed reading these poems for many reasons, the main one being that she wrote them based on her relationship with her mother and her son. It’s a wonderful example of poetry and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Review Excerpts

School Library Journal Review
Grade 4-6-Like the presence of a mother's hand, Wong's thoughtful and reflective volume is comforting and easily accessible. The poems are solid and steady reminders of the connections between mothers and children. In the brief lines, which are boldly paired with Hewitson's striking and colorful scratchboard illustrations, children see only glimpses of life, but meaningful ones. A daughter notices, and loves, her mother's white hairs that "...grow back like daisies/poking through dark mulch." A mother cradles her child with "...her fingers curved/like a rainbow." In "Mother's Day," a boy gives his mother a hastily wrapped rock as a gift, and the caring woman immediately finds a purpose for it. Upon hearing her mother say, "When I was ten...," a girl wonders, "When she was ten, could she have been/such an amazing freak?" Universal love, discipline, strength, and emotion are all in evidence here.Sharon Korbeck, Waupaca Area Public Library, WICopyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Booklist Review
Gr. 5^-8, younger for reading aloud. These 18 short poems are limpid reflections on mother and child, some from the mother's point of view, some from the child's. All of them hold a kernel of truth that readers of all ages will recognize. A child walking "In Mother's Shadow" delights that she stops to rest "the very moment / my shoes grow / heavy." In another, a child compares plucking her mother's white hairs at her mother's request to plucking daisies. A tiny poem compares mother to an onion: golden, good for you, sometimes surprising in sweetness, or making you cry. A mother breathing slowly in sync with her infant or shielding her baby's eyes with "fingers curved / like a rainbow" are poems lovely in their simplicity. Jennifer Hewitson's illustrations are both sweet and powerful--strong scratchboard lines with pastel washes that make arresting images. The mother and child in "Smother Love" are a sculptural single shape; in the "Rainbow Hand" image, the lines of the mother's and baby's faces and the curves of the mother's hands echo the rhythm of the poem. Children from tots to teens, and beyond, will find their own tangled feelings here. GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Connections

Other books by Janet S. Wong

A Suitcase of Seaweed and Other Poems. ISBN: 1419698095
Behind the Wheel:Driving Poems. ISBN: 0689825315
The Dumpster Diver. ISBN: 0763623806

Websites with Activities, Games and Lesson Plans:
http://www.janetwong.com/poems/index.cfm
http://www.teach-nology.com/teachers/lesson_plans/language_arts/poetry/
http://www.poetryteachers.com/






Awards

Janet's awards include the International Reading Association's “Celebrate Literacy Award,” presented by the Foothill Reading Council for exemplary service in the promotion of literacy, and honors from the Claremont Graduate School and Penn State University. She also has been appointed to the Commission on Literature of the National Council of Teachers of English. Articles by and about Janet have appeared in Scholastic's Instructor magazine, Creative Classroom, Booklinks, and O magazine; Janet and her work have been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show and other television programs.

"Janet S. Wong Scholastic.com." Teaching Resources, Children's Book Recommendations, and Student Activities Scholastic.com. Scholastic Inc. Web. 24 July 2011. .

Friday, July 22, 2011

Culture 5- Year of the Dog

Culture 5: Asian Pacific American Literature

Bibliography

Lin, Grace. 2006. The Year of the Dog. New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 9780316060028

Plot Summary

It’s the Year of the Dog, and for Pacy, a Taiwanese/Chinese American, this means this should be a year of luck and an opportunity to find her inner-self. Pacy makes a new friend in Melody, a fellow Taiwanese/Chinese American who is new to the community. Together they share a lot of laughs, learn about their cultures and learn the importance of family, friends and how to find out what their talents are.

Critical Analysis

Let me begin the analysis by saying that I didn’t actually read this book, I listened to the audio version of it so my interpretation of it might or might not be slightly different than those who actually had the hard copy. This book is a coming of age book for young Chinese American children who want to learn about each of their cultures separately but also how they tie together. For Pacy it was confusing for her to decipher who she was supposed to be. I remember her stating that the American’s thought she was too Chinese and the Chinese thought she was too American and that she didn’t know how to fit in with one group or another because she wasn’t just Chinese or just American. It also frustrated her that there were no famous Chinese actors/actresses and that she wouldn’t appropriately fit the role of Dorothy in the school play because of the cultural difference. Throughout the reading of this book there were many characters that were described physically from the color of their hair, the clothes they wore and they way they spoke that indicated this family was clearly Chinese. There were also many instances where the Chinese language was used in addition to the English the story was told in. The reader of the audio version was also Chinese and she did a very good job of pronouncing the Chinese words correctly and by putting the proper inflection/accent on the entire story.

The mother and father in this story try to help Pacy realize where she comes from and how it relates to her life in America by telling her stories about her grandparents and what it was like to grow up outside of the United States. In this story we get to learn about not one Chinese American family, but two because we are introduced to Pacy’s best friend Melody a few chapters in. While both families are Chinese/Taiwanese American they seem to live completely different lives. For instance Melody’s family all speak Chinese and Pacy’s do not and Melody’s family has a different style of cooking than Pacy’s does. While these two girls grow up in seemingly different households they also share a lot of the same frustrations, interests and dreams. Together they realize the importance of family values, true friends and how to fit in a world that doesn’t seem to accept them for who they are and who they want to be.

I really enjoyed listening to this book and I look forward to reading/listening to the sequel titled Year of the Rat. While reading is always beneficial to our students I would highly recommend that they listen to this book as well because of how well it was read and how much you really feel like part of Pacy and Melody’s world!

Review Excerpts

School Library Journal Review
Grade 3-5–A lighthearted coming-of-age novel with a cultural twist. Readers follow Grace, an American girl of Taiwanese heritage, through the course of one year–The Year of the Dog–as she struggles to integrate her two cultures. Throughout the story, her parents share their own experiences that parallel events in her life. These stories serve a dual purpose; they draw attention to Graces cultural background and allow her to make informed decisions. She and her two sisters are the only Taiwanese-American children at school until Melody arrives. The girls become friends and their common backgrounds illuminate further differences between the American and Taiwanese cultures. At the end of the year, the protagonist has grown substantially. Small, captioned, childlike black-and-white drawings are dotted throughout. This is an enjoyable chapter book with easily identifiable characters.–Diane Eddington, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Gr. 3-5. When Lin was a girl, she loved the Betsy books by Carolyn Hayward, a series about a quintessentially American girl whose days centered around friends and school. But Lin, a child of Taiwanese immigrants, didn't see herself in the pages. Now she has written the book she wished she had as a child. Told in a simple, direct voice, her story follows young Grace through the Year of the Dog, one that Grace hopes will prove lucky for her. And what a year it is! Grace meets a new friend, another Asian girl, and together they enter a science fair, share a crush on the same boy, and enjoy special aspects of their heritage (food!). Grace even wins fourth place in a national book-writing contest and finds her true purpose in life. Lin, who is known for her picture books, dots the text with charming ink drawings, some priceless, such as one picturing Grace dressed as a munchkin. Most of the chapters are bolstered by anecdotes from Grace's parents, which connect Grace (and the reader) to her Taiwanese heritage. Lin does a remarkable job capturing the soul and the spirit of books like those of Hayward or Maud Hart Lovelace, reimagining them through the lens of her own story, and transforming their special qualities into something new for today's young readers. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Connections

Other books by Grace Lin

Year of the Rat. ISBN: 0316033618
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.
ISBN: 0316038636
Dim Sum For Everyone.
ISBN: 0440417708

Websites with Activities, Games and Lesson Plans:

http://www.gracelin.com/content.php?page=book_yeardog&display=activities

http://www.wakegov.com/NR/rdonlyres/5A2B952E-B44D-4835-9BA9-6BF41D113045/0/YearoftheDog.pdf

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/chinesenewyear

Awards

• 2006 Fall Publisher's Pick
• Starred Booklist Review
• 2006 ALA Children's Notable
• 2006 Asian Pacific American Librarian Association Honor
• 2006 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) GOLD Winner
• 2007-2008 Texas Bluebonnet Award Masterlist
• 2007 Nene Awards Recommended List (Hawaii's Book Award Chosen by Children Grades 4-6)
• 2007 Cochecho Readers' Award List (sponsored by the Children's Librarians of Dover, New Hampshire)
• NYPL 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2006
• Kirkus Best Early Chapter Books 2006
•2006 Booklist Editors' Choice for Middle Readers
•Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice 2007
•Boston Authors Club Recommended Book
•2007-2008 Great Lakes Great Books Award nominee
•2007-2008 North Carolina Children's Book Award nominee
•2007-2008 West Virginia Children's Book Award nominee
•2009 Beverly Cleary Children's Choice Award (OR) nominee
•2009 Pacific Northwest Young Readers Choice Award (WA, OR, ID)nominee

Culture 5-Tree of Cranes

Culture 5: Asian Pacific American Literature

Bibliography

Say, Allen. 1991. Tree of Cranes. Ill. by author. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN: 039552054X

Plot Summary

This is the story of a young Japanese boy who despite his mother’s wishes for him to not play in the pond, does it anyways. When he returns home he is sure that she will be angry with him but she simply gives him a bath, a warm meal and sends him to bed to fight the cold he caught at the pond. While he is resting she is busy making origami cranes and digging up a pine tree in the backyard. Soon everything she has been working on will come together as she explains a special holiday she used to celebrate in the United States. This will be the boy’s first Christmas!

Critical Analysis

Tree of Cranes is a great example of Asian Pacific American Literature because it brings together the Asian and American culture seamlessly. The story takes place in Japan and everything we see in the illustrations and read in the story is a depiction of Japanese culture, however, when the mother begins telling the story about her birthplace of “Ca-li-for-ni-a” and the holiday traditions they used to celebrate such as decorating a tree and placing presents under it, you begin to see how the American culture ties into the story as well.

None of the characters have names in this story and from the beginning it’s as if the story was being told in first person by the author Allen Say himself because he starts the story with “When I was not yet old enough to wear long pants…” . The text is very descriptive and in addition to the illustrations, help the readers visualize what it must have felt like that morning down at the pond, the apprehension the boy was feeling as he entered his house after disobeying his mother’s rules, and the excitement he felt when he saw the kite under his Christmas tree. The illustrations are done skillfully and eloquently and represent the calm and serenity of the Japanese culture with their variety of muted colors and excellent portrayal of a Japanese home and surrounding areas. The characters are shown in authentic Japanese clothing/attire, their hair is fixed/cut in styles that you most likely seen in Japan, their skin coloring vary from shades of beige, white and tan, and their facial features and expressions are appropriate representations of what people of Japanese descent look like.

This was a heart-warming story about the relationship between a young boy and his mother, the importance of obeying your parent’s wishes, and how two cultures can be shared in one household harmoniously. It was a beautifully illustrated and well written book that would be a great addition to an elementary or junior high campus library!

Review Excerpts

Publishers Weekly Review
Heedless of Mama's warnings, a Japanese boy cannot resist playing at an ice-cold pond "filled with carp of bright colors." When he comes home, he is immediately treated for a cold, with a hot bath and rice gruel. His mother's attitude chills him more than the weather, though; he cannot understand why she seems to be ignoring him. Hearing a noise in the garden, the boy spies Mama digging up the pine tree that was planted when he was born. She brings it inside and decorates it with paper cranes and candles. It is a Christmas tree, the first for the boy, and the first in many years for his mother, who tells her son she comes from "a warm place called Ca-li-for-ni-a." The story is a poignant one, illuminated with finely drawn illustrations reflecting the serenity of a Japanese home and the quiet love between mother and son. Say ( The Bicycle Man ; El Chino ), who came to this country from Japan when he was a teenager, again exhibits a laudable sensitivity to Eastern and Western cultures--and to both the differences and the similarities between them. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Kirkus Review
When the young Japanese narrator comes home with a cold after playing in a forbidden pond, his mother ``barely looks at him'' and puts him into a hot bath and then to bed without so much as a story. She's busy folding silver paper cranes; later, she brings in the little pine planted when the boy was born and decorates it with candles and the cranes, explaining for the first time how she celebrated Christmas in California, where she grew up. The boy is allowed to light the candles, and next day he receives a gift--a kite he especially wanted--for his first Christmas. Say's exquisitely designed illustrations are as elegant as those for The Boy of the Three-Year Nap (1988, Caldecott Honor). Geometric forms in the austere Japanese architecture provide a serene background for softer lines defining the appealing little boy and his pensive mother. As in Say's other books, there is an uncompromising chill here from parent to child: it's true that the boy has disobeyed, that his mother warms and feeds him, and that in the end they share the tree's beauty; still, her longing for ``peace and quiet'' seems exclusionary, and her cold uncommunicativeness while preparing the lovely tree is at odds with its message. Beautiful, honest, but disturbing. (Picture book. 4-8) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Connections

Other books by Allen Say:

Grandfather’s Journey. ISBN: 0547076800
Tea with Milk. ISBN: 0547237472
The Boy in the Garden. ISBN: 0547214103

Websites with Activities, Games and Lesson Plans:

http://ncta.osu.edu/lessons/japan/culture/gao-japan.pdf

http://curriculum.dpsk12.org/lang_literacy_cultural/literacy/elem_lit/curric_instruc_assess/planning_guides/3/3_7_author_study_lit_response_reading_lessons_say.pdf

http://monkey.org/~aidan/origami/crane/

Awards

· Caldecott Medal, 1994, Grandfather's Journey

· Caldecott Honor Book, 1989, The Boy of the Three Year Nap

· ALA Notable Children's Book, 1988, The Boy of the Three Year Nap

· Boston Globe/Horn Book Award, 1988, The Boy of the Three Year Nap

· New York Times Ten Best Illustrated Children's Books, 1988, A River Dream

· Christopher Award, 1985, How My Parents Learned to Eat

· Horn Book honor list, 1984, How My Parents Learned to Eat

· New York Times Best Illustrated award, 1980, The Lucky Yak

· ALA Notable Book and Best Book for Young Adults, both 1979, The Inn-Keeper's Apprentice

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Culture 4-Morning Girl

Culture 4: Native American Literature


Bibliography

Dorris, Michael. 1992. Morning Girl. New York: Hyperion Paperbacks for Children. ISBN 9780786813582

Plot Summary

Written as a double narrative, this story is told in first person by Morning Girl and her younger brother Star Boy. The two young children live with their family on a small Bahamian Island in the year 1492 and the story revolves around each of their points of views as certain events effect their lives forever. A gripping tale of what it really means to be part of a family, survive Mother Nature, and the welcoming of strangers from a foreign land.

Critical Analysis

Morning Girl was given her name because she always wakes up early. Her brother, Star Boy, is the exact opposite and as she states in the book “For him, night is day, sleep is awake. It’s as though time is split between us, and we only pass by each other as the sun rises or sets.” These characters names pay homage to their culture. Native Americans are notorious for naming members of their tribes for the elements of nature that surround them (or so I’ve noticed in this module). The imagery that the author uses to describe what the characters see, hear and feel also pays tribute to nature. For example, Morning Girl says ”The day welcomed me, brushed my hair with its breeze, greeted me with its songs” and “I let the rich scent of the large red flowers color my thoughts, and the perfume gave me an idea of how to use my special time.”
There are many instances that are mentioned in the book that help establish that this family is of the Native American culture. They discuss the types of dwellings they reside in, the fact that they sleep in hammocks and on mats, the fishnets they use for catching fish, canoes as means for transportation, and how much time they spend in nature on their outings. There is also a reference to the “women’s house”, which is where Native American women would go during their monthly menstruation to have time to themselves.

It was a very interesting book and I like the author add mystery and intrigue to the story. It was also fun to read the epilogue at the end of the book, which was an excerpt from Christopher Columbus’s journal describing his encounter with Native American people. I also liked that this book had two main characters and that we got to “hear” the story from both of their points of view and that we were able to get to know both of them equally.

Review Excerpts

Amazon.com Review
A peaceful, tropical world is the setting for Morning Girl, a simple yet rich glimpse into the lives of a young sister and brother. Morning Girl and Star Boy grapple with timeless, universal issues such as experiencing simultaneous anger and love toward family members and the quest to discover the true self. As all siblings do, these children respond to, play off of, and learn from each other. Precisely where Morning Girl and Star Boy are growing up is not revealed, but it's clearly a place where the residents have no modern amenities. Living in harmony with nature is a necessary priority here, and--given the descriptive names of the characters--a Native Indian culture seems likely. But not until the epilogue do readers discover that the story takes place in 1492. Suddenly we realize that the strange-looking visitors Morning Girl welcomes to shore are not as harmless as they may appear. The excerpt from Christopher Columbus's journal provides an ominous footnote: these gentle people, who seem so very much like us, will not be permitted their idyllic existence much longer.

Publishers Weekly Review
Youthful brother and sister narrators are a great choice to interpret Dorris's novel, written from the point of view of Morning Girl and Star Boy, two Taino siblings living on a Bahamian island in 1492. A string of images of everyday life and the dynamics between family members introduce listeners to what this part of the world was like before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Eliza and Riley achieve a commendably comfortable level with the text, something that is sure to appeal to many young listeners. Riley's boyish, high-pitched voice and sometimes excitable tone is perfect for the classic "rambunctious little brother" role. In a brief epilogue (narrated by Terry Bregy), Dorris signals the arrival/encroachment of European explorers. The way this text and recording bring alive a lesser-known side of a well-studied bit of world history may well spark discussion in classrooms and family kitchens. Ages 8-up. (Jan.)

Connections

Other books by Michael Dorris
The Broken Cord. ISBN: 0060916826Sees
Behind Trees. ISBN: 0786813571
Guests. ISBN: 0786813563

Websites with Activities, Games and Lesson Plans:

http://themayflower.pbworks.com/w/page/31775663/Morning-Girl-Lesson-Plans
http://www.enotes.com/morning-girl-qn
http://www.cedu.niu.edu/~carger/ciee539/morngirl.html

Awards
1989 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction, for his book The Broken Cord