Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Revisiting Wonder by Reading The Julian Chapter and Looking Over 365 Days of Wonder

I regularly teach Wonder.  As I was preparing to teach it this semester, I decided I'd finally buy 365 Days of Wonder--which includes a quotation or precept for each day of the year along with some observations from Mr. Brown.  On Amazon, I noticed that I could buy an additional chapter--one for Julian, who is the most antagonistic character in Wonder and whose perspective was never included.

I was so excited for this addition.  This excitement was lessened a little when I later learned this chapter is included in the latest edition of the paperback--there I was at the front of the class, exclaiming that there was a new short story with all of my students staring at me, thinking, "Crazy woman, we already read those sections...."  Sigh.  I'll seem way cooler when I teach it again in the fall.

In terms of the actual story, the first half of Julian's story is his perspective for the events in Wonder.  I found this half to be "blah."  It didn't really help me to empathize or sympathize with Julian.  The second half, however, was far more engaging.  Julian travels to France and learns some things about his grandmother's childhood that provides him with a new perspective.  This made The Julian Chapter worth reading.

So, it's nice having this expansion to Wonder.  It really is one of my favorite books to share with future teachers.  I assign it to every single one of the students in my department when they take my class on diversity in schools.  It's the very first work of fiction I assign to them.  It demonstrates the value of empathy.  I also show them this video, which distinguishes empathy from sympathy.

Recently, our department added murals throughout our building.  I was excited, because I got to share my ideas with the artist and a lot of the books I teach were included.

Wonder is included in the mural of giant books
near the entrance to my department.
Now I'll have to teach Wonder for as long as our department is in this building.

Tasty Rating:  !!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Rob Thomas (not the musician) Owns My Heart Forever

Mr. Kiss and Tell.  Someone whom Veronica hadn't been able to save during high school is brutally sexually assaulted.  Even though the survivor doesn't want Veronica on the case, she finds herself drawn in, pushing Veronica to the point in which she may have to break some of her own rules.

Unlike the first book, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, that continues Veronica Mars's story post-movie, Mr. Kiss and Tell is not narrated by Kristen Bell.  This automatically made the audiobook a disappointment.

Mr. Kiss and Tell is narrated by Rebecca Lowman, who I know best for narrating several of the books by Rainbow Rowell, including Fangirl and Eleanor & Park.  She's a great reader.  She has a wonderful way of drawing out the emotional resonance of a story (which is why she's a great match for Rowell's audiobooks).  But, she couldn't really capture any of Veronica's toughness or sass.

*Vague spoiler*  It is also worth noting that the title of the book does come from a plot point in the story.  I like the title, but when the name was introduced into the story, I felt like a part of the mystery was lost...because it was obvious who the primary suspect would be.  *End vague spoiler*

Now begins the wait for the next book....

Tasty Rating:  !!!


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