Monday, July 18, 2011

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Lewis, C. S. (1996). The Lion, the witch, and the wardrobe. New York: HarperCollins.

Award: Challenged Book List 1990-2000.

Exposition: Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are evacuated to a professor’s house during the war for safety. Left on their own they find a magical wardrobe that takes them to another country.

Conflict: Between good and evil, the inhabitants of Narnia and those that want to take over to destroy them. Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy have to figure out whose side they are on and fight accordingly.

Rising Action: As the four children go into the wardrobe, they discover the land of Narnia and meet many of the inhabitants. They also meet Aslan, a lion, who ends up guiding them through the fight against the evil white witch. Aslan has given each of them special articles that help not only during the fight in this book but in other books as well.

Climax: Edmund repents of his choice to follow the white witch. Aslan gives his life in Edmund's stead, but later comes back from the dead as those that give their life freely can’t really be killed. The children along with the inhabitants of Narnia have to fight against the white witch in order to save Narnia.

Falling Action: The children, Aslan, and Narnians fight and eventually overpower the white witch’s followers and kill the white witch. The four children become rulers of Narnia and grow into adulthood during a peaceful reign.

Resolution: On a hunting trip following a white stag, the four children stumble across a lamp-post which reminds them of a vague dream of a past life. They dismount their horses and going toward the lamp-post they find branches of trees resembling fur coats. The next thing they know they are tumbling out of the wardrobe as children once more. They go to tell the professor about what had happened and he believes them.

Literary qualities: This series is an allegory of the Christian walk and symbolism is seen throughout this book. Aslan is a symbol of Christ as he guides the inhabitants and saves them, the white witch is a symbol of evil and temptation. The white witch not only sits up high on her sled, but also wants the country to be in a perpetual state of winter which symbolizes her feelings of superiority and wanting no one to have feelings of happiness. Just as parables are earthly stories with heavenly meanings, this series is the same.

The Giver

Lowry, L.  (1993). The Giver. New York: Random House.

Award:  Newbery 1994, Challenged Book List 1990-2000.

The Giver

Exposition: Jonas lives in a community where everything is planned for all the inhabitants, including what they will do, eat, and wear. Jonas and his friends get ready to go to the annual ceremony where they will be given their assignments since they are twelve years old.

Conflict: As Jonas receives more memories he becomes aware of what happens within his community. When the baby Gabriel doesn’t develop as he should Jonas has to make a decision.

Rising Action: Jonas and his friends, now given their assignments, meet only occasionally. Jonas learns more about what being a receiver of memories means, and the hypocrisy behind the community rules.

Climax: When Jonas overhears his father say that Gabriel will have to be released, Jonas has to decide what to do in order to protect Gabriel.

Falling Action: Jonas takes Gabriel and leaves town. After leaving the community limits, the harsh weather conditions and lack of food and water prove to be too much for him to handle.

Resolution: Jonas having gone through the blizzard with Gabriel sees a house and lights at the bottom of the hill. The reader is left to draw their own conclusion—did Jonas actually see a real house to which they both will be saved, or is it just an illusion due to his frozen state?

Literary qualities: Theme and values are strongly developed and explored within this book. The community doesn’t allow emotions or touching to occur, yet Jonas is allowed both as a receiver. Symbolism is also seen throughout the book starting with the giving of articles at each age to assignments and then with the memories that Jonas is shown. Many things throughout the text are not told directly but indirectly letting the reader do some formulation on their own. This book can easily be read by a middle school reader, but even college age students could benefit by the symbolism and comparisons drawn between the utopian society seen in this book and our own society.

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Konigsburg, E. L.  (1967). From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Award: Newbery 1967, Challenged Book List 1990-2000
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Exposition: Claudia Kincaid, an 11-year-old girl, decides to run away from home because she thinks her parents don't appreciate her. She asks her youngest brother Jamie to go with her because he has money which she realizes they will need. She picks The Metropolitan Museum of Art because she doesn’t like discomfort.

Conflict: Claudia and Jamie have to learn to not only learn to adapt to living in secrecy at the museum, but also want to find out the secret of the newest exhibit.

Rising Action: Claudia and Jamie learn to navigate the streets of New York during the day and the museum at night.

Climax: One of the newest exhibits, Angel, holds a secret that Claudia wants to unravel—was she sculpted by Michelangelo? She and Jamie go the Mrs. Frankweiler’s house using the rest of their money to find answers.

Falling Action: After meeting Mrs. Frankweiler, she leads them to her vault of files where they have to find the answer themselves.

Resolution: Claudia and Jamie are taken home in Mrs. Frankweiler’s car, with not only the knowledge about Angel but having a secret themselves to keep.

Literary qualities: The story is narrated by Mrs. Frankweiler’s to her lawyer which gives insight to behind the scenes. Character development is strong within this story as well as you get a feel of what Meg is really like and why she ran away. She becomes a real person and not just a flat character, even though this is told in third person. Theme is also something that can be pulled from this book as the development of Meg from the beginning of the story to the end changes which helps readers not only identify with her, but in forming a theme for the book and why Meg did what she did.

One Crazy Summer

Williams-Garcia, R. (2010). One Crazy Summer. New York: Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins.

 Award: Coretta Scott King and Newbery

One Crazy Summer

Exposition: Three sisters–Delphine (11), Violetta (9), and Fern (7)–fly from Brooklyn, where they live with their father and grandmother, to spend 28 days in Oakland with their mother Cecile who they haven’t seen since Fern was an infant.

Conflict: There isn’t so much a conflict in this story as it is a growing of age story. The three girls have a mother who doesn’t know how to be a parent. They learn during the time that they spend with her to accept her for who she is. The setting is in California during the 1960s. Cecile is involved with the Black Panther movement.

Rising Action: The three girls learn to fend for themselves as their mother doesn’t want them around during the day and doesn’t cook for them at night. They go to a community hall and attend youth activities where they learn about the Black Panther movement. Something they were unfamiliar with in Brooklyn. At night they have Chinese take out as their mother doesn’t want them in her kitchen messing it up.

Climax: Cecile is arrested and put in jail, the girls are left on their own for a while. After which Delphine learns a little more about her mother.

Falling Action: The girls recite poetry at a community rally and Cecile congratulates them on doing so.

Resolution: When boarding the plane to go home the girls realize that they won’t get a warm goodbye and turn to leave. But at the last moment, they look back and Cecile is standing there watching them instead of having already left. They leave the line to give her a hug goodbye.

Literary qualities: This book is chock full of characterization. All three sisters are fleshed out to be characters that you can see and understand. Style and tone are also strong in this book as it is told through the voice of Delphine which makes her an even strong character. The historical facts woven in this book are limited, but enough to give information for those that want to do further research to find out more about the Black Panther movement and that time period.

Surfer of the Century

Crowe, E., & Waldrep, R. (2007). Surfer of the Century. New York: Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Award: Bluebonnet

Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku

This nonfiction book tells the story of Duke Kahanamoku, who first introduced surfing to the world in early 1900s. He also was in the Olympics several times for swimming competition and won many gold medals. Illustrations are well done and realistic in full color. There is only one photograph of Duke on the back cover of the book. Since this was about a historical figure I wish that there were more photos. The story is engaging as it is an overview of his life as an adult and what he accomplished during a time when it wasn’t easy for Hawaiians to compete. The author does a good job showing his courage, determination, and sportsmanship, which is something to be modeled to students.

Interrupting Chicken

Ezra, D.  (2010). Interrupting Chicken. Somerville, Mass: Candlewick Press, 2010.
Award: Caldecott Honor

Exposition: Little chicken asks her dad to read her a bedtime story

Conflict: Little chicken can’t quit interrupting her dad while he is telling a story

Rising Action: Father chicken tries to tell three stories, each of which is interrupted by little chicken so that the father can’t finish any story.

Climax: Father chicken tells little chicken that if she wants a story she’ll have to tell one herself since she can’t stop interrupting.

Falling Action: Little chicken begins to tell father chicken a story

Resolution: Father chicken and little chicken fall asleep.

Illustrations: Full color page illustrations, which are done in bold colors, are engaging. Little chicken is superimposed on the pages of the story she is interrupting which make for a story within a story. The story pages that father chicken is reading are in pastels.