Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Big Idea – Perspective.

This really is a great topic and I'm making the most of this opportunity trying to find different perspectives or characters who represent different perspectives.  To clarify – that would be perspectives different from my own.  This is one of those topics where individuality plays a significant role. (If you don’t know why I'm writing about perspective go to July 5th’s blog. )

A common question  the Nellie McClung Elementary School teachers came up with, was--

What's it like to walk in someone else’s shoes?

The purpose of most stories is it give the reader some kind of insight into the lives of other people. So, short of pulling almost all the books off the Doucette Library's shelves, I'm trying to be a little more controlled and selective in the books I'm recommending.

I’ve already mentioned Wonder by R.J. Palacio  that captured both my imagination and my heart.  Along the same lines is Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper (823 D791O FIC). Melody is in grade five but faces additional challenges with cerebral palsy.  I really liked this story and particularly enjoyed the character and voice of Melody.  I felt as trapped as she did in her own body, looking to live life like ‘normal’ kids.  She has tremendous spirit with an upbeat outlook, great sense of humour and bunches resiliency.  When she is given the ability to communicate through a computer device, and her world opens up, I felt like I was able to communicate again.  This is a strong story that brings us into Melody’s world. We learn what it’s like to live with severe, physical restrictions and how to go about living the best life you can.  Both Wonder and Out of My Mind place readers into the skins or ‘shoes’ of two unique souls and will help students emphasize with someone else’s lot in life.

Trash by Andy Mulligan (823 M9165T FIC) was an interesting read that took me into a community that lives by and from a vast garbage dump in a Southeastern Asian urban centre.  It is told primarily from the point of view of three boys who live and work at the dump.  This is a mystery that revolves around a package that one of the boys discovers that leads them into heaps of trouble as they help to expose a corrupt official. Eventually they have to leave the dump and their families to start new lives. The action and tension slowly builds, drawing you through the book. The conditions in which the boys live are mind blowing and told in a very matter-of-fact way.  Though a work of fiction, it is based on an actual garbage dump and the people who work and live there in Manila.

The Other Half of My Heart by Sundee T. Frazier (823 F8698O FIC) is a beautiful exploration of sisterhood.  A pair of twins of interracial parents gives us the opportunity to think about identity, belonging and how race plays into both.  A beauty pageant for black girls is the setting where sisters, light-skinned Minnie and dark-skinned Keira, begin to see that the colour of their skin often dictates how people will treat them.  Told from Minnie’s point-of-view, she begins to understand how her sister feels when pageant organizers and contestants, assuming she’s white, suggest she doesn’t belong in the pageant.  Keira often feels that she doesn’t belong in their predominantly white community, experiencing racism that Minnie doesn’t have to deal with.  Minnie is a very thoughtful girl and the set of circumstances she finds herself in allows her to grow and become stronger.
I’ll be recommending each of these three fabulous stories to the teachers from Nellie McClung Elementary School


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