Jun 4, 2009

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Walk Two Moons is the Newbery winning book by Sharon Creech. The storyline is composed of three different time periods in Sal's life. The novel weaves these narratives together; one is reaching towards the future, one is the recent past, and the third connects to events in the more distant past. Sal is moving forward on a cross-country road trip with her grandparents on her way to see her mother. Along the way she tells stories of her new friend in the town she recently moved to, these connect back to deeper memories of her childhood. While the book deals with a lot of dark themes, it is more concered with the reality of life rather than being a menacing tragedy. The novel explores how we all have struggles in our lives.

One of the moments in that book that explores some themes is when the class reads and tries to understand a poem.

"Mr. Birkway read a poem by Longfellow: "The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls." The
way Mr. Birkway read this poem, you oculd hear the tide rising and falling,
rising and falling" (181).
The book then excerpts a portion of the poem, but here it is in full:

The tide rises, the tide falls,
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;
Along the sea-sands damp and brown
The traveler hastens toward the town,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

Darkness settles on roofs and walls,
But the sea, the sea in darkness calls;
The little waves, with their soft, white hands
Efface the footprints in the sands,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

The class continues to discuss the poem, in part showing how a good poem can have a complexity of meanings.

"Mr. Birkway asked for reactions to this poem. Megan said that it
sounded soft and gentle, and it made her go to sleep.

'Gentle?' I said. 'It's terrifying.' My voice was shaking. 'Someone
is walking along the beach, and the night is getting black, and the person keeps
looking behind him to see if someone is following, and a jing-bang wave comes up
and pulls him into the sea.'

'A murder,' Phoebe said.

I went barreling on as if it was my poem and I was the expert. 'The
waves, with their "soft, white hands" grab the traveler. They drown
him. They kill him. He's gone.'

Ben said, 'Maybe he didn't drown. Maybe he just died, like normal people

Phoebe said, 'He drowned.'

I said, 'It isn't normal to die. It isn't normal. It's terrible.'

Megan said, 'What about heaven? What about God?'

Mary Lou said, 'God? Is He in this poem?'

Ben said, 'Maybe dying could be normal and terrible'" (182-3).

I like how this poem and other moments in the English class deals with the different ways writing can be interpreted. Over the summer the students were asked to keep journals and parts of these were read outloud in the class. Originally I thought that Walk Two Moons was the first book written, but actually Absolutely Normal Choas was written first. It was the journal of Mary Lou, then Sharon Creech decided she wanted to explore what would happen when those journals were turned in. She explains by saying, "This story began as a follow-up to Absolutely Normal Chaos. In that book, Mary Lou Finney writes a summer journal, and as I began Walk Two Moons, I was merely speculating about what might happen when she turned in that summer journal to her English teacher."

I really enjoyed the storytelling of this novel and the way that the plot unfolds slowly. The writing was done in a slight dialect, which I do not enjoy, but it was so slight that it was easy to itgnore. The books had a lot of subplots going on, but they just made the story rich definitely not overdone.

The title of this story comes frim a saying presented early in the book, "Don't judge a man until you've walked two moons in his moccasins."

Do you think that is a good motto to live by?

Jun 2, 2009

Midnight Swing

Midnight Swing
(from Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Away)

When I can't fall asleep
I sneak out to the yard
and climb onto the swing
that's attached to a branch
of sweet scented pine.

As I glide though the night
and I hang back my head
I see stars and a moon
that's following me
through the evergreen trees.

And I fly on my swing
through the midnight ice cold
as the swirling white clouds
of my own frozen breath
brush my tingling cheeks.

And my nightgown wafts up
and my hair billows out
as I float through the air
and there's only the sound
of the dark whooshing past.

And my thought drift to you
on a day long ago
when my legs were too short
so you helped me climb up
and you taught me to pump.

---Sonya Sones

Jun 1, 2009

This is the exact imaginary, figurative gold star that was actually awarded to me in real time by the spectacular Neal Shusterman!!

(After I demanded he do so.)

(How I love those that bend to my will!)

How did I earn this gold star? Besides by sheer force of will? Well, it ends up that one of my favorite books that I have read in the past year written by one of my favorite authors that I have discovered in the past year is being released in paperback. And much like my desperate plea for this hard earned gold star, Neal issues his own plea. Tell ten people about the impending release so he can put his son through college! :D

So, now I told you and you need to go tell ten people. Then maybe you will get a gold star too. But not this one. This one is mine. NO TOUCHING. This one was virtually presented to me by one of my favorite authors and you can't have it.

Of course I didn't gush all over him about how much I think he is a genius. And also I do feel kind of stupid after proclaiming him one of my favorite authors after reading only one of his books. But he has a lot of them and I keep meaning to read them. No tisk tisking me! We've all been there.

Okay, so the book, the one I am supposed to tell you about but I haven't because I have been blabbering about myself so much (but that couldn't possibly be a bad thing) is UNWIND! And you really need to read it. It is one of the most compelling, well plotted, and haunting books I have ever read.

I read this book after Chelsea recommended it. She is one of the best book recommenders I know. When I first saw the cover of this book (the paperback is slightly different) it didn't look like something I would like. But Chelsea was right and this book was amazing.

So go out and buy this book. You need to read it!
(Or take it out from the library, but don't tell Neal I said that.)

I have started a few other of Neal's books and have seen many of them listed on various genre lists. I am looking forward to reading more of his books and maybe this time I will actually follow through with it!
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