Monday, August 16, 2010

It's Non-Fiction Monday & The tingle of potential

Nonfiction Monday
Today I'm hosting Nonfiction Monday.  This is a weekly roundup of blogs that highlights nonfiction children's literature.  If you wish to have your blog's posting added to this week's list please leave your link in the comments box or use Mister Linky's Magical Widgets found at the end of this posting and I'll add them throughout the day.

Just in at the Doucette Library is Tsunami by Joydeb Chitrakar, a very interesting book published by Tara Books.

This is one of those books that kinda get my synapses snapping, a ‘feeling’ you might say, of ‘potential’.

First, the format: This is what grabbed me right off the bat.  It is a rectangular-shaped book that unfolds downward, accordion-style as it tells the story.  It represents a scroll (more about that in a moment).

Second, the story: Well, it’s not really a story.  It is a recounting of the 2004 tsunami that devastated large areas of South East Asia and killed thousands of people.  Though it does tell of the event, it more aptly conveys the feeling of loss and desperation that was left in its wake. It is described as ‘dirge-like in tone’ and as a ballad.

Now back to the scroll aspect.  The description on the back of the book says it best: “The Patua is a form of narrative graphic art, comprising a series of panels, stitched together to form a scroll.  It belongs to a performance tradition of Bengal when song-writer and artist went from home to home, showing pictures and singing out their stories. Traditional stories and local news was part of their repertoire.  Now contemporary artists also look to events reported in the mass media, especially drawn to news that is dramatic and emotionally charged…”

Third, the illustrations: Wow!  Can’t miss them. The colours, yellow, red, green and black are incredibly vibrant, bordering on the garish.  The books are all handmade, from the making of paper to the silk-screening process to the assembling of the book.  See video as to how this is accomplished.  Very cool.

The first panel/page shows a fearsome, open-mouthed, fanged demon.  The open mouth has a river-like flow of water, representing the water from the tsunami, filled with people, animals, homes and debris. Along the ‘banks’ of the mouth we see mostly mourners and a couple of journalists.  The text of the narrative also flows along beside the “water’s tongue” poetically describing the “tragic story that I sing Of the wave that took everything. Tsunami!  Swallower of the living…”

And finally, the potential:  I can see connecting this book to art, language arts, social studies, science and health. Everything but the kitchen sink, you might say.

For art, the whole book itself can be used to look at the process of hand making a book. Looking at this traditional form of storytelling could also tie into the arts.

For social studies, there is the grade 3 social studies curriculum in Alberta that looks at India.  At higher grades, looking at global issues such as how the international community responds to crisis is possible.  Tied to current events, like the recent earthquake in Haiti, it provides a venue for comparing situations.

Language arts can connect into narrative styles as well as how the story was physically told (accordion scroll) and what this contributed to the telling.  Students could potentially use this as a basis to model some of their own work.

For science, extreme natural events often hold a fascination for kids.  Adding this to a unit on earthquakes, volcanoes and drought would be a natural fit and provides a way to engage and introduce cross-curricular connections, too.

Whew!  I wonder what else?  I know this is one that I’ll keep in mind and find opportunities to promote – whatever the subject.


Sarah N. said...

Thanks for hosting today! I left my post with Mr. Linky.

Julia Kelly said...

Thanks for hosting! So much good reading- my contribution- "Anonymous was a Woman" all about the secrets thought of girls a hundred years ago, while their hands were doing busy work-

Roberta said...

Thank you for hosting today. I see my review of Seeds of Change fits in with your blog title :-)

Tara Books said...

Pleased to see this review, we hope that the book can be used in the classroom to spark a range of discussions and activities!

We just added a link to your blog on twitter here:


Tammy Flanders said...

Thanks, Tara Books, for stopping by. I really do enjoy your handmade books. So beautiful...

Tammy Flanders said...

Thanks Roberta. I've been wondering whether or not to purchase this latest book about Wangari as our collection already has 2 picture books about her. Your review suggests that the approach this version takes will provide additional perspective. Thanks again.

Roberta said...


You should definitely think about getting Seeds of Change. It does offer a lot more than some of the others that just came out. very well done.

Tammy Flanders said...

You're right, Roberta. And the illustrations look fantastic to boot.

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