Sunday, March 29, 2009
REVIEW: Gertrude Is Gertrude Is Gertrude Is Gertrude
Winter, J. (2009). Gertrude Is Gertrude Is Gertrude Is Gertrude. New York: Atheneum Books
for Young Readers.
Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude Is Gertrude (four Gertrudes there) is a biographical picturebook written in the style of, and about, Gertrude Stein. This is a book that needs a lot of background information to get completely. Also, because of it’s prose style, a teacher will need to read this book aloud multiple times (or encourage rereading) to help students get the meaning. (Of course, there’s nothing wrong with just sharing the book for enjoyment of the words and the way they flow either. It all depends on your goal for the day)
With some beautiful lines, this book would be great to accompany sharing some of Stein’s writing.
The illustrations are fun and colorful and compliment the text well. They help to provide a sense of fun and play with perspective.
Activities to do with the book:
After sharing this book, a teacher could encourage students to write freely, whatever thoughts go through their heads.
There are a number of ways a teacher could use this book with larger individual or group projects. A teacher could assign research papers or presentations based on Modernism and the artists and writers of the school (including Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Ernest Hemingway, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso), their art and the historic events.
While this book could be used with a number of age groups, if a teacher chooses to share it with the upper grades, at least a few students will assume the unseen narrator is on drugs and the teacher will have to challenge students to think more deeply.
Also, if any teachers out there happen to be as nerdy as me, he or she may want to try having a tea party after sharing this book by taking an hour to two to have the students go to the school library or other homey school space, dress in period clothes (maybe for extra credit) talk about literature and art of the period and maybe even read Stein’s poems and others’ works aloud in small groups.
"And now it's time for tea. Teatime is teatime. And look who's here, in time for tea."
"Pages and pages and pages with words all over the pages. My goodness, what fun. What fun to write whatever words occur."
"You see Miss Gertrude is a genius. And a genius is a genius. So what if no one understands a word she writes. Some day they might."